California Family Code section 3170 requires the Court send the parents in a Child Custody and Visitation matter to child custody counseling. Each county has a different model, whether it is Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC) or Family Court Services (FCS); however, the creation of and the purpose behind the counseling comes directly from the California Family Code.
What is the Purpose of Mediation?
The purpose of mediation is to give the parents of the child or children a chance to meet in the presence of a mediator, someone whom is generally licensed or at least meets the California Family Code qualification, and attempt to come to an agreement regarding a custody and visitation plan. The mediator will focus the parties’ attention to the best interest of the child or children, all while attempting to obtain both sides of the story. This mediation takes place with both parents and the mediator. However, if there has been domestic violence or there is a restraining order is in place, mediation will take place with each parent individually.
Outcome of Mediation
The outcome of mediation is wholly dependent on the parents and whether any custody or visitation arrangement is agreed upon. From mediation, a full and complete agreement between the parents can be reached and presented to the court. On the date of the hearing, the court will read and consider the agreement. Each party will be able to state on the court’s record if they agree with the terms of the agreement or whether they want to change terms and why. However, be aware, if the parties reach an agreement in mediation and then want to change it at the hearing, it is difficult. The court may not be willing to change an agreement between parties, just because one parent has what is commonly referred to as “buyer’s remorse.” So, if you plan to appear at the hearing and disagree with the previous agreement, a compelling argument must be made why the change is requested. A skilled family law attorney is absolutely useful in a situation like this.
Another potential outcome could be that a partial agreement is reached between the parents. An example of a partial agreement is when custody of the children can be agreed upon, such as sharing joint legal custody, but a visitation schedule cannot be agreed upon or visa versa. The mediator will make note of the agreement and indicate the parties have reached a partial agreement. After noting the agreement, the mediator, if you are in a “recommending county” (i.e. San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, etc.), will then prepare a report. The report will give information to the court regarding the issues in the case and a recommendation section at the end. The recommendation section is the most important section of the report because it is what the mediator is recommending that the court order for the parents because they could not come to an agreement themselves.
At the hearing, both parents will be able to state if they agree with the recommendations or not and what they agree or disagree with and why.
However, if you are in a “non-recommending county” such as Los Angeles County, absent an agreement, no report or recommendations will be made to the Court and the battle at the hearing becomes “he said” and “she said.”
One other potential outcome could be that the parents reach no agreement in mediation. Should you be in a recommending county, then the report will proceed with what the mediator learned from each party during mediation, his or her analysis of the situation, and then conclude with a recommendation section. Again, as stated above, this is the most important section and needs to be analyzed by each parent in depth. Courts appear, more times than not, to make orders consistent with the mediator’s recommendations, with little or no alterations, unless presented with sufficient evidence to make other orders. However, if your case is in a non-recommending county, no report will be generated and your case will be litigated. Again, both situations, if fighting against recommended orders or litigating, a family law attorney’s experience and skills can be vital to the outcome of your case.
To learn more about how the family law attorneys at the Law Office of Taylor B. Warner, APLC may be able to help you with you divorce, child custody and visitation case, paternity case, or any other area related to family law, please contact us for a free 30 minute consultation at (909) 466-5575.