Orientation Class Information (Class available on-line only at this time due to COVID-19)
Pursuant to California Rule of Court 5.210e(2), Family Court Services provides orientation information regarding the Child Custody Recommending Counseling Process. Per order of the Court, both parties are required to complete orientation prior to the scheduled Child Custody Recommending Counseling appointment at Family Court Services.
The orientation class prepares parents for Child Custody Recommending Counseling by giving an overview of the process. This includes educational information regarding children’s developmental needs and co-parenting skills.
There are two options available to complete the orientation offered in both English and Spanish:
- Mediation, also known as child custody recommending counseling, regarding child custody and visitation disputes as provided by Family Code 3160 and 3183(a)
- Marital and relationship counseling as provided by Family Code 1831
- Premarital assessment for minors who petition the court as provided in Family Code 302 and 304
- Mediation, also known as child custody recommending counseling, of visitation issues on guardianship matters
- Orientation to Child Custody Recommending Counseling
What is Child Custody Recommending Counseling?
Child custody recommending counseling is a form of negotiation between parties with the help of a mental health professional counselor who will assist them in reaching an agreement regarding custody and parenting issues. If parties do not reach an agreement, the child custody recommending counselor will make recommendations to the Court. This service is provided free of charge and generally occurs before the first court appearance.
How Does Child Custody Recommending Counseling Work?
The child custody recommending counselor listens carefully to each parent, and encourages the parents to listen to one another with an open mind. The goal is to help parents develop a parenting plan that reflects the developmental needs of their children that enhances the quality of their lives. This is accomplished through negotiation and compromise.
What is the Purpose of Child Custody Recommending Counseling?
To reduce hostility that may exist between the parties and to develop an agreement on the issues of custody and a parenting plan assuring the children frequent and continuing contact with both parents that is in the best interest of the children.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A written plan between the parents for sharing time with the children and legal decision-making responsibilities.
Who Conducts Child Custody Recommending Counseling?
Child custody recommending counseling is conducted by a mental health professional with at least a Master’s Degree and extensive clinical experience in the field of psychology, marriage, family and child counseling and social work. Required training includes domestic violence and its’ effect on children, substance abuse, child abuse, family dynamics, the effects of divorce and separation on children, the developmental needs of children.
Do Child Custody Recommending Counselors Interview Children?
There are two instances when children may be interviewed. First, the court may order that the children be interviewed. Second, the child custody recommending counselor may decide to interview the children if there is a disagreement between the parents. If the children are interviewed, a separate appointment is made after the parents’ session. Children under the age of five are not typically interviewed. Appointments are normally at 3:00 PM so as to minimally interfere with their school schedule.
What About Marriage or Relationship Counseling?
Upon request of either parent or order of the court, the parents may engage in relationship counseling that may or may not lead to reconciliation. Both parties must agree to the counseling.
Why Juvenile Premarital Counseling for Persons Under the Age of 18 Requesting to Marry?
The Family Code §302 and §304 require that a Judge sign a court order allowing minors under age 18 to get a marriage license. Each case is counseled and evaluated by a child custody recommending counselor.
What Happens When There Are Allegations of Child Abuse?
The child custody recommending counselor is required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the proper authorities.
Legal Terms Relating to Child Custody
- Legal Custody: The rights and responsibilities of parents to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
- Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share in the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their child.
- Sole Legal Custody: One parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their child.
- Physical Custody: Where the children live; how much time the children spend with each parent; how day-to-day responsibilities are fulfilled.
- Joint Physical Custody: Children spend a significant amount of time with each parent.
- Sole Physical Custody: Children reside primarily with one parent and have visitation with the other parent.
- Joint Custody: This term means both joint legal and joint physical custody.
- Visitation: Times when one parent has the children and is responsible for them.
- Supervised Visitation: Visitation is limited to situations in which a third party, specified by the Court is present. Supervised visitation may occur when there is a need to protect children because of drug or alcohol abuse, child abuse or neglect; family violence, or other serious problems, or when children are getting to know an absent parent.