Many counties require child custody counseling, also referred to as mediation, whenever there is a child custody issue in dispute. This is a cost-free service, as it is required by the Court. Parties are required to schedule an appointment or may be ordered and scheduled by the Court during proceedings. Parents generally meet jointly with a child custody counselor during their appointment; however, in cases of domestic violence, a party may be entitled to a separate appointment. Sometimes the custody counselor will elect to speak with the child(ren); however, attorneys, and other third parties, are not allowed to attend mediation. Only the parents participate.
Often, orientation is required prior to the actual mediation appointment. Contra Costa County allows you to complete your orientation online.
Commonly, since the Custody Counseling is more impacted than the Court, a custody counseling date is scheduled for after the hearing. Absent an emergency, it may be ideal to postpone your hearing on custody issues until a date after your custody counseling appointment. This can help you avoid unnecessary time off work to appear in court, and any attorney’s fees associated with an unnecessary appearance. In Contra Costa County, you may use this form to help you obtain a cost-free continuance in this circumstance.
Reports generated by the custody counselors are heavily considered by the Court when making any custody order.
If you have questions about the Custody Counseling process, or need help preparing for an upcoming appointment or hearing, feel free to contact us for some assistance.