Family Court Services in Child Custody Cases
Under California law, the baseline standard is that it is in the best interest of children to receive close and continuing contact with both of their parents. With that in mind, the Court has a significant amount of discretion to review the facts of any child custody dispute and determine whether it is in a child’s best interest to spend more or less time with either parent.
As you can imagine, if a custody dispute reaches Court, the parents have reached a point where they cannot agree on at least some aspects of child-sharing. For example, the disagreement could be over the percentage of time with the children, choice of school or doctor, which parent cares for the children on Tuesday nights, who takes the children to school or soccer practice, or transportation arrangements to the other parent’s home. This list goes on.
In all custody cases, no matter the amount of and severity of disagreements, the Court requires both parents to attend a Family Court Services Recommending Counseling session wherein the parents meet with a professional counselor who will assist them in reaching an agreement on their various custody and parenting issues. Both parents share their point of view with the counselor and express their concerns about the custody and visitation dynamic with the other parent. The counselor helps reduce hostility and facilitates settlement. If no agreement is reached at the end of the counseling session, then the counselor will prepare a written recommendation to the Court regarding how the Court should resolve any outstanding issues.
While any recommendation sent to the Court is not controlling, the Court will use the recommendation as a starting point on how to proceed with its decision. For this reason alone, it is very important to attend Recommendation Counseling fully prepared. Consulting with the right attorney prior to the session can be invaluable to ensure you present your positions in the best manner. The recommendation from Family Court Services can be highly useful to your case by representing accurate information you provide, and even inaccurate information provided by the other parent if you can present proof of those inaccuracies. This blog only provides general information about Family Count Services. You should contact an attorney for specific advice on the importance of Family Court Services Recommended Counseling to your case since each situation requires an analysis of the unique facts and circumstances. [Disclaimer]
Ultimately, if the issues between the parents are minor, Recommending Counseling can be extremely beneficial by reducing stress and keeping costs low. If the issues are of higher stakes, then Recommending Counseling is an opportunity to first present your case to a mediator and learn more about the other parent’s positions and motivations. You can then either reinforce the counselor’s recommendation in Court, or poke holes in it to your advantage, but you won’t truly know how much you will be able to do either until the recommendation is received.
It is important to know your rights, responsibilities, and options regarding Child Custody and Visitation issues and Family Court Services Recommending Counseling. Our family law team at Naimish & Lewis can advise you on this and other dissolution and divorce related matters. To schedule an initial consultation with an attorney at our firm, please contact us.