Mediation Services

Mediation Service in Western Nebraska

Mediation West is located in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and provides mediation services throughout 15 counties in Western Nebraska. Mediation West firmly promotes the integrity of the individual and his/her ability to work toward discovering perspective and building solutions.

Parenting Plan Mediation

Parenting plan mediation helps you and the other parent work toward how you will parent from separate homes. Whether you are establishing paternity or are newly separated and needing a first-time parenting plan, or whether you have a current parenting plan that needs modification of an existing parenting plan, our mediators can help. Some of the issues involved include:

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  • Regular parenting time
  • Vacations
  • School breaks
  • Holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Telephone contact
  • Time with extended family

Physical Custody

Physical custody means the authority and responsibility regarding the child’s place of residence and the exertion of continuous parenting time for significant periods of time. 

Option 1, Joint Physical Custody: The parents agree to joint physical custody granting mutual authority and responsibility of the parents as described above.  

Option 2, Primary Physical Custody: The parents agree one will have primary physical custody granting primary authority and responsibility regarding residency and exertion of continuous parenting time as described above. The other parent’s parenting time with the child is set out in the plan. 

Legal Custody

Legal custody means the authority and responsibility for making fundamental decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including but not limited to choices regarding education, health, and spiritual or religious upbringing. 

Option 1, Joint Legal Custody: The parents agree to joint legal custody of the child, granting mutual authority and responsibility to the parents for making fundamental decisions. 

Option 2, Primary Legal Custody: The parents agree one will have primary legal custody of the child, granting sole authority and responsibility to the designated parent for making fundamental decisions.

Parents will typically use the following definitions in their parenting plan:

  • Informed decisions: the parent designated as the primary decision maker makes the decision and tells the other one later.
  • Input Decisions: The parent designated as the primary decision maker asks the other parent for an opinion before making a decision.
  • Joint Decisions: Parents are informed, hear each other out, and make a mutual decision together. Parents opting for joint decision making must specify a procedure for when they don’t agree.


Parents are required to designate how decisions will be made in certain areas. Additional areas can be added at the discretion of the parents. Parents should define how decision-making will happen for day-to-day decisions and major decisions.

  • Typically, parents will agree that the parent with whom the children at the time will make the day-to-day decisions in both co-parenting and parallel-parenting plans.
  • Categories of decisions considered “major” that should be defined in every parenting plan include: Education, Medical and Religion.
  • Other areas parents often include: athletics/ extracurricular activities, and selection of childcare providers.
  • Other areas we see parents occasionally include: children’s contact with extended family or the children’s friends, and children’s dating.

Parents being on the same page when it comes to extracurricular activities can help prevent conflicts. It may seem simple, but there are many things to consider. Our professionals have the needed experience to thoroughly dive into all the extracurricular activity details you are thinking about, and bring up the ones you may not have been thinking about. From scheduling pickup times to how to handle payments, Mediation West will walk with the involved parties to ensure the best outcome for parents and kidos alike.

Communication can be difficult. Today’s world of text, email, phone calls, and social media can create a lot to be deciphered. The mediators at Mediation West will help set up an agreeable protocol for communication between parents and guardians. Let’s keep everyone in the know and kids’ needs in the forefront by setting communication expectations that we can all agree on. With strong communication, comes successful co-parenting.

Child-Centered Mediation

Specially Trained Mediators Help Children Feel Included

In cases where parents are working to develop a parenting plan, we sometimes hear, “I don’t want to involve my child.” The truth is the child is already involved. Our child-centered mediation program allows parents and their mediator to learn from the specially trained child consultant about what is important to their child before they make decisions in their joint session.

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Children are never asked to make choices or give suggestions. Children cannot be coached for their sessions because the child mediators are using activities to interact with the child that look for patterns that cannot be predicted by a parent. The intent of any individual or joint mediation session involving minor children is to provide an opportunity for the child’s voice to be heard by the family in a safe environment.

Each parent will bring the child(ren) for a private session that typically lasts about an hour. The parent and child(ren) will meet together with the consultant at the beginning of the meeting; then, the consultant will work on activities with the child(ren) while the parent is in the waiting area. The child centered mediation room has windows with shades open during their time together for parents’ peace of mind. The time child(ren) spend in their private session cannot be attended by a parent, attorney or third party.

Children must be in person at the mediation center, or a location approved by the Child Consultant, as the activities cannot be done via technology, such as telephone or video conference.

Child consultants take every precaution to ensure that stability will not be compromised during the mediation process. For this reason, child(ren)’s meetings are confidential.

  • Confidentiality will be explained to each child as their “private” time but not “secret” time.
  • The child may say anything about his/her time with the child consultant to anyone that s/he would like.
  • If children choose to keep the time private, parents must agree not to press their children for information about their session.
  • Safety is the only exception to confidentiality. If a child reveals unreported abuse or neglect, or that s/he is at risk or is aware that another person is at risk, the consultant is a mandatory reporter.

After the two individual sessions have been completed with the Child(ren), they may:

  • have a joint session with parent(s);
  • ask for information to be relayed to parent(s);
  • ask for no information to be shared.

Whether children have items to share or not,  the Child Consultant will meet with the parents and their parenting plan mediator to share if his/her observations indicate areas that should be considered as the parents create or modify their parenting plan.

Parents may also wish to hold a session with their child(ren) after establishing a parenting plan so they can share that plan with their child(ren) in the presence of a mediator.

Parents giving consent for their child(ren) to participate in the mediation process should be committed to allowing their child(ren) to continue as long as the child(ren) see value in it. Prematurely severing their participation may have negative consequences for the child(ren).

Parents agreeing to participate in a research study on Child Centered Mediation may be able to have their fees for the service waived.

When you open a parenting plan case, there is a section where you can opt into the program.

Parent - Child Relationship Mediation

Do you have a “wild child,” or are constantly arguing and fighting with your kiddo? Let’s face it, parent child relationships have been creating stressful conflicts since the beginning of time. The professionals at Mediation West are here to help. Our parent – child mediation allows for all voices to be heard in a safe, low-stress environment. Bring your conflicts to Mediation West and have our professional, unbiased mediators bring resolution and peace to your parent – child relationship.

  • Parent – Child Relationship
  • All Voices are Heard
  • Unbiased Mediation
  • Safe, Low Stress Environment
  • Resolution & Peace to Your Relationship
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Family Mediation

  • Strengthening Family Relationships and Communication
  • Child-Parent Interaction
  • Estate Issues
  • Elder Care Issues: facilitated family decision-making surrounding aging adults.
  • Siblings can discuss the needs of their parents, how to share those responsibilities, in terms of how to divide the labor of care, management of finances, living arrangements, and other related issues.
  • Grandparent Visitation
  • Guardianships
  • Divorce: divorce mediation can be a cost-effective way to address property division, payment obligations, and other decisions surrounding your separation.
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Special Education Mediation

The Nebraska Department of Education is contracted with mediation West to provide all services at no cost to parents or school districts. Mediation can be requested by anyone with a special education situation at any time.

Mediators specifically trained in special education situations will help families, school districts, and other interested parties discuss problems constructively. Mediators are skilled at managing dynamics and helping people discern what they really want. As with any mediation, all parties will need to agree to solutions and no agreement can be imposed upon parents or school districts. If there are agreements, the mediator put these solutions in writing for the parents and school district.

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Types of Special Education Issues that have been Successfully Mediated Include:

  • Disagreements concerning the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of the free appropriate public education of learners with disabilities.
  • Communication problems among interested parties.
  • Strained relationships between family and the school district, trust issues, or disputes over assessments.

Before a joint mediation session is scheduled, the mediator will contact the parents to learn their perspective of the situation privately; s/he will also contact representatives of the school district for their perspective in a private conversation. Things shared with the mediator in those individual sessions will not be shared without the permission of those who shared them. This gives parents and educators the opportunity to fully explore the situation without worrying about how their views might impact the other parties’ perceptions or actions.

Experience has shown that those who mediate have a high probability of finding a resolution. If you can’t reach an agreement or reach only a partial agreement, attempting mediation does not take away any of the other due process rights or timelines that are available to you.

Community & Small Claims Mediation

Practically any issue can be mediated. Some examples include issues between: 

  • Landlord/Tenant 
  • Business/Customer 
  • Neighbors 
  • Parties involved in an accident 
  • Parties to a contract 
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Organizational Issues Mediation

Are There Tensions:

  • In the work environment or relationships with co-workers or leadership?
  • Between members or leadership of your religious community?
  • Complicating work between divisions of your business, institution, or government agency?

Your organization may benefit from workplace mediation, conflict coaching, or conflict prevention and engagement training.

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Workplace mediation is designed for two people, or a small group of people, in conflict to meet over a short period of time to work on their concerns. Workplace mediation can help promote:

  • Trust, fairness and respect
  • Improved working relationships
  • Better work environment
  • A positive public image

Conflict Coaching allows for ongoing one-on-one support for individuals to prevent and manage interpersonal conflict more effectively over a longer period of time. Your participant will build these personal skills within the framework of your organizational goals.

Participants learn to:

  • Understand your own conflict management style.
  • Understand the dynamics that created and feed the conflict.
  • Address the underlying causes of the conflict and not just the expression of the conflict.
  • Assess their responses to conflict that arises between sessions and develop approaches for future conflict that build on the positive and evaluate the negative.
  • Focus on the control they have over their reactions, even when they have no control over another’s behavior.

Classes, training and presentations for your organization can help your entire team look at conflict differently by learning to:

  • Set better objectives for conversations by identifying the differences between positions, issues and interests in a conflict.
  • Manage conversations in a way where people feel heard, that reduces defensiveness and helps shift the conversation to a solution-based focus.

Preventing and resolving conflict and having a more cooperative and productive team can be easier with new perspectives in communication from our experts.

Do you need to: Build structure, update policy, define goals/expectations, or plan for retirement?

Your organization may benefit from one of our facilitated processes or transition planning.

Strategic planning and team building are two of the most common processes we offer businesses. Facilitated processes are intended for issues that involve more than just a few people. Your facilitator can help you identify and address:

  • Disconnects between departments and overall organizational goals
  • Deficiencies in policies
  • Ambiguities in operating procedures
  • Better ways for teams to work together

Whether you are looking to transition a key player within your organization or sell your business, afresh perspective from outside your group can help you better identify:

  • What is (and is not) important to you in the transition
  • Who are the people most likely to be a good fit for taking over (and those who are not)
  • The most ideal timing (and times to avoid)
  • Tasks that need to be accomplished for the tactical implementation (and their timelines)

Let our professionals help guide you through a smooth transition.

Referral Mediation

Some types of mediation cases are typically started with a referral. Mediation West handles referral cases in the following areas:

For those appealing a suspension of benefits received through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Service.  Employment First participants or case managers/supervisors can request mediation when:

  • There is a disagreement about a decision regarding a participants self-sufficiency contract.
  • The case manager slash supervisor feels the self-sufficiency contract is not being followed or maintained.
  • Communication between the employment first case manager becomes difficult and needs improving.
  • A participant is notified by NDHS about an adverse action that they don’t agree with.
  • You feel having other service providers involved in your case would be helpful.

Download the Employment First Mediation Services Brochure

Nebraska’s Child Welfare System works to protect minor children who have been harmed or at risk of being harmed physically or emotionally. These definitions also include neglect, which means the adult(s) responsible for the minor children have not been able to provide the necessary care for them. These cases are commonly referred to by Judges and attorneys as 3a cases, which is a reference to the statute number, or law, that applies to child welfare.

This section provides more information through links to publications, as well as service descriptions of different child welfare processes facilitated by Mediation West.


The following publications were designed to help parents, relatives and foster parents understand the court process when children are under the supervision of NDHHS or in custody of the State of Nebraska. These cover:

  • Common questions
  • The court process
  • Who’s involved
  • A central place to gather important names, addresses and phone numbers
  • Definitions of common terms

Guide for Parents (
Guía para padres (
Guide for Foster Parents and Relative Caregivers (
Guía para padres de acogida y guardas familiares (

The following publications were designed for children in the child welfare system. There are a variety of styles to meet the needs of children and youth of different ages.

Comic: Ben and Emma Discover their Super Powers. A story of a brother and sister that find themselves in foster care. (

Coloring Journal: My Adventure Guide to Court. This coloring book also has space for children to write down names and phone numbers of people helping in their case. (

Youth Guide: What Now? A Guide for Kids in Nebraska’s Juvenile Court System. This booklet is designed for older juveniles and teens involved in the child welfare system. (

Young Child’s Court Form: This form is designed to help adults gather information the judge can use to get to know younger children better. (

The following publication is designed to help prepare Child Protective Service workers for child welfare processes guided by Mediation West.

Quick Guide for Child Welfare Conferencing.


As one of the six court-approved mediation centers for the state, Mediation West acts as an unbiased third party to manage some meetings in child welfare cases. This section describes some processes you might be asked to participate in. See below for more detailed information.

Typically held soon after children’s removal from the home and before the parents’ first appearance in court. Information is gathered for the Judge using an approved template. Families are able to learn about safety concerns NDHHS has and explore services that can help families work toward having their children return home. Parents can also share their feelings about where their children are staying and the visitation schedule they have.

A process designed for the family to develop a plan to reunify with their children with support from extended family/friends and community resources.

A process designed to take place several months after the initial removal of the children to review how NDHHS and the family have been working together and what progress has been made toward bringing the children home.

The state has a limited amount of time to reunify parents and children. If a case has been open for a long period of time and NDHHS and the court have not been able to return the children home, they may file for a termination of parental rights in preparation for placing the children up for adoption. Because terminating parental rights is a serious step, the PHTPR is an important meeting. Here, we review how NDHHS and the family have been working together, if there were any circumstances that were out of the ordinary or were preventing parents from receiving services, or if there are any additional services that could be offered to try and bring about the changes needed before this final step.

For those parenting from two homes, a Bridge Order helps define what custody and visitation will look like after the child welfare case is closed. The Bridge Order is designed to temporarily take the place of any parenting plan that is in place through a District Court Order (typically for a year). The Bridge order process allows parents to develop a plan where children can be reintroduced to parents that causes them less trauma after the removal for abuse/neglect.

Mediation is most often used in child welfare cases when there are strains in family relationships that are standing in the way of the family progressing toward bringing the children home. This could include strains in the relationships between parents, a parent and child, or members of the immediate family and extended family members that have potential to add support that could help bring the children home.

Juvenile Justice in Nebraska

When an underage person “breaks the law,” Nebraska handles these cases differently. You may hear a judge or lawyer refer to these types of cases as “status offenses” or 3b cases. What they are referring to is the part of law the law that handles juveniles. Rather than seeking a conviction in a trail, a trial-type process called an adjudication allows a judge to manage the case. There are no juries in Nebraska for juvenile cases.

The following publications were designed to help answer questions for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

  • Guide for Youth What Now? A Guide for Kids in Nebraska’s Juvenile Court System. This booklet is designed for older juveniles and teens that are justice system involved. (
  • This Quick Guide helps probation officers prepare for processes guided by Mediation West.

Juvenile Justice Mediation

Services through Mediation West may be ordered by a judge, or referred through Diversion, Probation or an attorney. Click on the green headers below for additional details about the different processes that you may be asked to participate in.

Typically ordered/referred for juveniles on probation, this process assists Probation in developing a case plan that involves the immediate and extended family, and community support to either:

  • Avoid an out-of-home placement by creating plans and setting expectations for family/support response to the juvenile’s actions and setting consequences for the juvenile if the plan is not followed.
  • Assist in the transition home after an out-of-home placement when there are concerns about the youth regressing or losing progress made. Plans are designed for juvenile to continue gains made in the structured environment.
  • Seeks to repair the harm that has been caused to victims/community rather than focusing on the law that has been violated. Probationers gain insight into the consequences of their actions in a way that reduces recidivism. For more information on how victim conferencing works, read below on Restorative Practices.
  • For juveniles on diversion or probation, reparations agreements are usually crafted to be completed in time for a successful release.

Youth involved in the juvenile justice system may also be referred to mediation to resolve issues they identify as standing in the way of a youth’s progress, ability to not reoffend, or their successful completion of diversion or probation.

Restorative Practices

Harm in any form is a violation of relationships, whether they be close personal relationships or in our roles as community members. Restorative practices work to prevent and repair harm. Hurt people hurt people, so there is value in stopping the cycle. Restorative practices work to achieve a shift in our environment as people learn more about each other and their needs through sharing their stories and participation in decision-making.

Circles find their roots in the cultures of many indigenous peoples as a common means to provide support for people dealing with a wide variety of issues. The circle symbolizes the cycles and interdependence of all forms of life found in the natural world and provides equity where no one person is elevated to a position of power during the conversation. The circle supports those who share their struggles and harms and participants explore ways to support them and address their needs.

While circles can be used to address harm after the fact, they are the most common preventative restorative practice supported by Mediation West. Circles are effective in proactively building relationships and understanding amongst people before harm occurs. Participants have the opportunity to hear and be heard in an atmosphere of safety. By getting to know each other through this process, participants continually mature in their views of others as people. When people are seen as valuable individuals rather than objects to be acted upon, increase in tolerance and empathy naturally lead to a reduction in harm.

Some important elements of a circle are:

  • Participants have an equal opportunity to speak
  • Rules and decisions are made by consensus
  • While there are one or two people entrusted to be circle keepers, the group self-regulates with the goal of not expelling people from the group.

Conferences for students experiencing attendance problems are meant to be conversations with students and their families rather than gathering professionals to talk to them.

The conference aims to identify areas where he student shows strength and learn more about his/her interests and goals, as well as the root causes of absenteeism and the barriers of getting the student to school. The group also discusses the impacts missing school has had, both in terms of relationships and academics. The family will work to generate options to solve the core issues and what consequences there should be if the plan is not followed.

Retributive vs. Restorative Justice

This table illustrates the differences in the approach to justice between Retributive Justice and Restorative Justice. As you will see, Restorative Justice is much more community centric and focuses on making the victim whole.

Retributive JusticeRestorative Justice
Crime is an act against the state, a violation of a law, an abstract ideaCrime is an act against another person and the community
The criminal justice system controls crimeCrime control lies primarily in the community
Offender accountability defined as taking punishmentAccountability defined as assuming responsibility and taking action to repair harm
Crime is an individual act with individual responsibilityCrime has both individual and social dimensions of responsibility

Punishment is effective:

  • Threats of punishment deter crime
  • Punishment changes behavior
Punishment alone is not effective in changing behavior and is disruptive to community harmony and good relationships
Victims are peripheral to the processVictims are central to the process of resolving a crime.
The offender is defined by deficitsThe offender is defined by capacity to make reparation
Focus on establishing blame or guilt, on the past (did he/she do it?)Focus on the problem solving, on liabilities/obligations, on the future (what should be done?)
Emphasis on adversarial relationshipEmphasis on dialogue and negotiation
Imposition of pain to punish and deter/preventRestitution as a means of restoring both parties; goal of reconciliation/restoration
Community on sideline, represented abstractly by stateCommunity as facilitator in restorative process
Response focused on offender’s past behaviorResponse focused on harmful consequences of offender’s behavior; emphasis is on the future
Dependence upon proxy professionalsDirect involvement by participants

Sometimes referred to as Community Justice, Restorative Justice (RJ) processes seek to bring together those that have caused harm and have been harmed and their supporters the opportunity to talk about what happened and how it affected them in hopes the harm caused can be repaired, in part in wholly.

The most common processes we use at the center are Victim Youth Conferencing (VYC) (link to Juv Justice Page) and Victim Impact Mediation for adults.

Traditional Justice Asks:

  • What law was broken?
  • Who broke It?
  • What is the punishment?

Restorative Justice Asks:

  • What happened?
  • Who was affected?
  • How can the harm be repaired?

These processes have been compared to a three-legged stool that seeks to balance the needs of the victim, offender and community while assisting the judicial system.

When you’ve been harmed:

  • Voice how the crime impacted your life;
  • Be seen as a real person, not as an object or target;
  • Seek answers about the incident that only the offender can provide;
  • Be directly involved in creating a plan that repairs the harm and holds an offender accountable to you.

When you’ve caused harm:

  • Explain your actions;
  • Take responsibility for your actions rather than just being punished by the system;
  • Work to repair the harm your actions have caused;
  • Be directly involved in creating an agreement that is achievable for you and meaningful to the victim;
  • Be seen as a person, not as a monster or criminal.

The Community Benefits by:

  • Increasing restoration of losses;
  • Reducing repeat crimes by offenders;
  • Modeling healthier ways to resolve conflicts;
  • Training and empowering volunteers outside of government framework promote good will.

The Judicial System Benefits by:

  • Increasing victim and community participation in, and satisfaction with, the justice process;
  • Shifting the time and cost associated with screening and reparation tracking to the mediation center;
  • Freeing resources for Courts, law enforcement, and justice agencies to service other cases.

How does the RJ Process work?: 

  • Referral
  • Individual Session
  • Sharing Session: Parties may choose to meet face-to-face, or a surrogate may represent the harmed individual
  • The harming individual take responsibility
  • The harmed individual speaks effects
  • Reparation Agreement

Have Questions?

You can find answers to many of your questions about mediation on our FAQ page.

Need A Class?

We offer Families in Transition Level I & II Classes about co-parenting & parallel-parenting.