WHAT IS THE FAMILY COURT SERVICES MEDIATION? AND WHAT TO EXPECT…
WHAT IS THE FAMILY COURT SERVICES MEDIATION? AND
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE FAMILY COURT SERVICES MEDIATION?
What is the Family Court Services Mediation?
First of all, why you have been sent to the Family Court Services Mediation:
- You and your spouse/ex-spouse have issues/disagreements regarding child custody and visitation of your child(ren); and
- You and your spouse/ex-spouse have not been able to resolve issues/reach an agreement regarding child custody and visitation of your child(ren); and
- You (or your spouse/ex-spouse) have filed a request with the Court asking the Judge to make orders regarding child custody and visitation of your child(ren).
The Family Court Services (FCS) Mediation is the process in which the Court gives you and your spouse/ex-spouse an opportunity to resolve disagreements about the care of your child(ren) with the assistance of a neutral third party (mediator/counselor).
Information shared by parents at the FCS Mediation is not confidential to the court.
If you and your spouse/ex-spouse are still unable to reach an agreement about the care of your child(ren) then the mediator/counselor will make a written recommendation to the Court, based on what was said by both parents during the FCS Mediation, as to what he/she believes to be in the best interest of the child(ren).
San Diego County is a “recommending county” which means that the Family Court Services mediators/counselors make recommendations to the Court after you and your spouse/ex-spouse attend the FCS Mediation, the Court may, but is not required to follow the FCS recommendations.
If you and/or your spouse/ex-spouse disagree with the FCS recommendations you will have opportunity to present your position at the court hearing. The Judge will make an order regarding child custody and visitation based on the recommendations AND additional evidence presented by parents at the court hearing.
- Neither parent is allowed to have an attorney at the FCS Mediation.
- Please don’t bring child(ren) to the FCS Mediation unless it was ordered by the Court.
- Don’t miss the FCS Mediation date, as it is critically important. If you cannot attend the FCS Mediation, please call the FCS office to arrange for participation by telephone.
- If you are being protected by a restraining order against your spouse/ex-spouse then, by your requests, you may be seen separately from your spouse/ex-spouse. Also, if a restraining order for your protection is in effect at the time of the FCS Mediation, you may have a support person with you during your FCS Mediation.
What to expect at the Family Court Services Mediation?
- You will view an orientation video before seeing a FCS mediator/counselor.
- The FCS Mediation will last for approximately 2 hours.
- You are expected to have a filled out Family Court Services Data Sheet (SDCS Form #FCS-002) with you at the FCS Mediation.
The form can be found at:
You and your spouse/ex spouse will be asked about:
a. Your houses, relationships and other subjects related to your ability to take care of the child(ren);
b. Any past, current and/or future problems or concerns related to other parent’s ability to take care of the child(ren). For example: busy work schedules/travel, domestic violence, problems with alcohol/drugs/medication, late pick ups/drop offs and etc.;
c. Past and current child custody and visitation arrangements with other parent;
d. Proposed child custody and visitation arrangements, and why you think they would be best for the child(ren); and
e. Preference regarding vacation times and division of holidays.
- Keep in mind, the FCS Mediation is not about you or your spouse/ex-spouse’s interests, it is about the best interest of the child(ren).
- When you talk about the child(ren) don’t say “my daughter or my son”. It is always better to say “our daughter or our son”. Remember, you are not the only parent.
- The FCS Mediation is an important meeting, please wear appropriate attire.
- Be polite with the FCS mediator and other parent, no eye rolling, arguing, speaking over each other, etc.
- When the FCS mediator talks to you, look him/her in the eyes when speaking.
- Don’t make expert conclusions about the other parent. For example, don’t say that he/she has mental/psycho disorders or she/he is an alcoholic or drug addict. Of course, you can discuss incidents, which have happened before, and any concerns of yours.
As it is stated above, you will be attending the FCS mediation without an attorney, but it is strongly advisable to consult with attorney before attending the FCS Mediation as the mediator’s written recommendations generally impact Judge’s decision regarding custody and visitation of the child(ren).
If you do not need the FCS Mediation appointment you must cancel it at least one court day prior to the appointment date. If you do not cancel the appointment and/or fail to appear for the appointment you may be ordered by the court to pay a monetary sanction of up to $1,500 pursuant to Code Civ. Proc. § 177.5.
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