In the state of California, when there is a child custody dispute, generally, the parents will be ordered to attend mediation before the court will make non-temporary orders. This mediation is generally conducted by Family Court Services. At the time this blog is being written, the Covid-19 Pandemic is still impacting courts and most mediation sessions are being held remotely.
It is always important to be prepared for mediation with Family Court Services. Generally, attorneys are not allowed to attend this style of mediation through family court services. However, a good attorney should always prepare their client for mediation.
Child Custody Mediation is conducted in two main formats in the state of California. One format is called a "reporting jurisdiction" (or "recommending jurisdiction") and the other format is called a "non-reporting jurisdiction" (or "non-recommending jurisdiction").
Non-Reporting Jurisdictions follow a confidential mediation style. This means that whatever the parties discuss at the mediation remains confidential, unless the parties reach an agreement on some or all issues. Any agreements reached are forwarded to the court. The mediator can inform the court that a domestic violence prevention services project investigation, child custody investigation, emergency investigation, etc. maybe needed/helpful to the court. However, other than informing the court that an investigation may be needed or that an agreement was reached, the discussions at mediation remain confidential. Non-reporting jurisdictions for child custody mediation include Orange County and Los Angeles County.
In Reporting Jurisdictions, mediation is not confidential. The individual conducting the mediation will make a recommendation to the court as to what the custody arrangement should be if the parties do not reach an agreement. If the parents do reach an agreement, similar to a non-reporting jurisdiction, that agreement is forwarded to the court. Generally, the mediator prepares a memo discussing what occurred at mediation and a recommendation to the court on any issues there was not an agreement reached on. Courts tend to heavily rely on these recommendations. For that reason, mediation is very important in reporting jurisdictions. Currently reporting child custody jurisdictions is Southern California are San Diego County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.
We recommend consulting with an attorney on any child custody or child visitation matter. We offer FREE Consultations and flat fee options with affordable monthly payment plans. We do not require thousands of dollars up front as a retainer. We offer pro se assistance, unbundled services (also called limited scope), and formal representation options. Our pro se assistance includes drafting the paperwork and preparing you for mediation--which is often all you will need in a reporting jurisdiction. Our goal is to provide parents affordable options for legal services in the family law, especially child custody, realm. If you are in the midst of a child custody battle, we can help. Now, you're not alone.