Family disputes often involve complex legal issues and high emotional entanglements between disputing parties. Such cases present mediators with challenges that require a wide range of skills. The goal of this course is to help those interested in becoming Divorce Mediators to begin to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to successfully work with divorcing couples.

The Mediator Certification Consortium of California (MC3) has approved this course as satisfying its requirement for a program that covers the basics in how to conduct mediation. Those satisfactorily completing this course may use their completion certificate as proof of having completed this requirement when applying for MC3 Certification.


Please Note: In the event COVID-19 Guidelines continue to makes it inappropriate to hold an in-person training, the training may be converted to an online format.

The next training will be held in January 2021, check back for more details

Program Objectives

The training program focuses on skill development necessary to enable a family mediator to:

  • Approach each case with the goal of helping parties develop their own solutions to issues in dispute;
  • Provide a safe environment for meaningful exchanges between the parties;
  • Assess the capabilities of the parties to advocate for their own interests;
  • Explain the court filing process and options for navigating the system.
  • Provide access to resources necessary to facilitate decision-making;
  • Address interactional roadblocks to the resolution process;
  • Assist parties with the development of a Term Sheet stating the terms they have agreed to; and
  • Recognize possible biases and adhere to mediator standards of conduct.

Content & Objectives

The content and objectives of this training are based on the Model Standards of Practice for Divorce and Family Mediation. In addition, the training addresses the unique needs of the Orange County DRPA program. Supplemental readings on family mediation procedures and issues are provided. Training cost includes a copy of The Mediator’s Handbook by Jennifer Beers plus the 200+ page OCHR Divorce Mediation Training Manual and a memory stick containing sample case forms.

Training Topics

The training provides a variety of learning modalities including lecture, discussion, and participant role-plays. The topics to be explored include:

Understanding the Divorce Context

Psychology of Divorce

The Effects of Divorce on Children

Divorce Process Options

Working with the Courts

Preparing to Mediate

Conflict Theory & Communication

Facilitative Mediation: Step by Step

Mediation Process Options

Understanding Mediator Impact

Engaging the Clients

Mediation vs. Litigation

Safety First: Domestic Violence Screening

Preparations for Mediation

Operating Under the Shadow of the Law

Legal Requirements of Divorce

Mediation Boundaries: Information vs. Advice

Mediator Ethics

Mediating Marital Issues

Understanding the Issues

Working Effectively with Parties

Incorporating Mediation Strategies & Techniques

Overcoming Mediation Challenges

Planning for the Future

Finalizing Agreements

Acquiring Practical Experience

Basic Divorce Mediation Training Certificate

In order to receive a certificate of completion for the Basic Divorce Mediation Training, participants must attend all sessions of the 40-hour classroom training. An application requesting MCLE credit for this activity is pending for approval by the State Bar of California. MCLE credits are available for an additional fee.

About the Trainer

The primary trainer for the course is Kathy Shimizu, the coordinator of the Dispute Resolution Program at Orange County Human Relations. Kathy has been involved in conflict resolution and advocacy for over 15 years. In 2007 Kathy received her Master’s Degree in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peace-building from California State University, Dominquez Hills. In addition, Kathy has completed numerous specialized training courses in areas relevant to divorce mediation.

Prior to becoming a mediator, Kathy was a credentialed secondary education teacher specializing in science education, with an interest in developing interdisciplinary strategies. As a result, Kathy is able to design curriculum that provides engaging, meaningful, hands-on learning experiences for trainees. Over the past 4 years, Kathy has introduced over 87 mediators to the challenges and nuances unique to the area of divorce mediation. Most recently, Kathy has developed and implemented an extensive in-court practicum designed to provide mediators with real-life opportunities to refine divorce mediation skills in a structured, mentored setting.

As a mediator, Kathy has convened and mediated hundreds of cases in a variety of settings including divorce and other family matters. Through the art of reflective practice, Kathy continuously strives to incorporate current conflict resolution and communication theories into her personal mediation practice as well as the training presentations she has developed and implemented.

What Previous Trainees Have to Say About OCHR's Training

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I have a private psychotherapy practice serving families.  I believe that mediation can be a powerful process for change—it has the potential to transform difficult situations into improved outcomes for families, which is why I became interested in HRC’s DRPA Family Mediation Program.  The Divorce Mediation Training is comprehensive and was a great opportunity to add to my skill set.  It has also been wonderful to meet and learn from experienced mediators from various backgrounds via the volunteer program. “

As a licensed attorney phasing out of litigation and into mediation, the OCHR Divorce Mediation Training of February and March 2014 was informative and right up to-date on the Family Laws as set forth in the California Family Code. The program handouts followed the subject matter as it was being presented and once referred to specifically, gives the reader thereof, pinpointing detail for future reference for specifics and presentation to the mediating parties. The presenting staff were exceptional as instructors.  Each kept all participants attention, and each of them seemed to be  sincere and excited about teaching and helping the upcoming mediators to prepare for future successful mediations. “

“As someone who has little to no experience in divorce mediation but who wants to focus on this in my private practice, this was a huge help.  I feel much better prepared having been armed with information, resources, and the benefit of hearing about experiences in this field. I would be happy to endorse this program: I would wholeheartedly recommend this course to any experienced mediator who does not have much experience in the field of Family Law. You will receive an excellent foundation to work from regarding all aspects of divorce and divorce mediation. I found this training invaluable.”

The training has been superlative.  I say this as someone who went to a good law school and has been through what seems like endless hours of CLE programs over the years.  I was also delighted to discover that we have the opportunity to observe court and mediations first, then to co-mediate; it is a fantastic way to ease into a new area.  Not only that, but OCHR’s commitment to ongoing training is fantastic.  I did the 32 hour basic divorce training in February, and I am already signed up for a 3 hour intensive training on  X-Spouse, with a promise of other advanced training in future months.  I love this program and can’t say enough for it.

Training Dates, Costs & Registration

The 40-hour Divorce Mediation Training is offered twice a year as a 5 day class (8 hours/day).
The full cost for the training is $1200. MCLE credits  are available for an additional cost of $150.  

There is a $100 early registration discount for applications received one month prior to the first day of training and individuals who serve as volunteer mediators in the OC Superior Courts DRPA Mediation Program either prior to or after the training are eligible for up to $750 in additional discounts.

To register, click the button above. For more information, contact Kathy Shimizu at 714-480-6581.

Advanced Training Opportunity in Family Mediation

For mediators who have completed a Basic Divorce Mediation Training and are seeking additional training and experience, OC Human Relations offers an Advanced Family Mediation Training Practicum providing mediation services in Family Law Courtrooms in the Orange County Superior Courts. Trainees are eligible to apply for the practicum upon completion of a Basic Divorce Mediation Training and the completion of 25 mediations of any type. (Mediators can obtain the required mediation experience by participating in the OC Human Relations Civil Court Mediation Program if they cannot provide verification that they have completed 25 mediations in other settings.)