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child custody

What Are Family Court Services?

California courts offer parents Family Court Services (FCS), which provide child custody recommendation counseling in cases where the parents cannot agree to a time-sharing plan. Under California Family Code § 3170, the court will refer parents who have contested issues concerning their petition to modify or establish custody or visitation orders, and cases involving domestic violence will be handled by FCS under a separate written protocol outlined by the Judicial Council.

Family Court Services were created to:

  • Assist families in settling family cases.
  • Work to ensure that children are able to foster relationships with both parents even after they divorce or separate.
  • Encourage parents to work together and share parental responsibilities.
  • Handle guardianship investigations for the Probate Court in cases where the prospective guardian is related to the child.

During their FCS counseling session, both parties will meet in a private office with a Family Court Counselor for 1.5-3 hours, and they will work together (with the guidance of the counselor) to draft an agreement that they both find agreeable and that is in the best interest of their child(ren).

There are two tiers of mediation that parents may be required to participate in:

  • Confidential mediation (tier 1), which requires the parents to participate in mediation before seeing the judge and litigating their dispute. Everything discussed is confidential, and the parties are encouraged to complete a partial or full custodial agreement.
  • Mediation with information gathering (tier 2), which is typically recommended after Tier 1 is unsuccessful or during the court proceedings. This tier involves mediation and an interview with your children to discuss concerns that the judge may have; after the completion of the information gathering, a report is submitted that helps inform the final determination made in the case.

Child Custody Mediation Benefits Families

At The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider, our attorney and legal team are here to help parents navigate their custody disputes as peacefully and easily as possible. We often advise our clients to partake in mediation because they can benefit you by:

  • Saving you time and money
  • Helping you learn and practice healthy communication with your future co-parent
  • Minimizing the stress involved with litigation
  • Allowing you to have more control of the situation
  • Allowing the process to be more amicable (which also benefits your child/whole family)
  • Reducing the likelihood of either party deviating from the agreement (as they have more say in the final determination)

Need help with your child custody dispute? Contact our La Mesa child custody attorney online or via phone (619) 304-8499 to schedule a case consultation. We can discuss your legal options, discuss the types of parenting plans that may benefit you and your child, and help you prepare for mediation.