What are Family Court Services?
The California Courts’ Family Court Services programs provide mediation services to help divorcing and separating parents resolve disagreements about the care of their children. The California Courts Family Court Services is staffed by court employees who are professionals in the field. The Courts explain that they provide mediation services for disputes over custody and visitation of children. The Santa Barbara County Superior Court must have jurisdiction, meaning that there must be an open Family Law case in Santa Barbara County before parents can go to mediation.
Do I have to go to Mediation?
Mediation is required in California whenever a dispute regarding custody or visitation is presented to the court. Parents must go to mediation prior to going to court on custody and visitation issues.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process conducted by a trained, neutral mediator to help parents peacefully discuss and decide how they will share custody and visitation of their child(ren). The mediation is completely confidential, and none of it can be used as evidence in court proceedings. If the parents reach an agreement regarding custody and visitation, the mediator will help the parents put it into writing to present to the judge or commissioner in charge of their family law case. This agreement, also called a parenting plan stipulation, becomes a court order after it is signed by the judge or commissioner. Once the stipulation is signed by the judge and filed with the court, it is legal and binding on both parents. The mediator will not make recommendations to the court.
Do I have to make an agreement on Mediation?
No. You do not have to make an agreement at mediation. In fact, you should discuss with your lawyer what agreement is in your children’s best interest prior to mediation. Mediators may attempt to force you into an agreement, but they cannot. If you do not think the terms of the settlement are fair or reasonable, do not make an agreement. If you do not make an agreement, the judge will make a decision at your custody hearing and will not know what was discussed or recommended in mediation in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. In Ventura County they have a recommending mediation program, where if an agreement is not reached, the mediator actually recommends to the judge what they believe is in the child’s best interest. There is a different strategy we employ for mediations in Ventura, so please call our office to discuss.
If you have questions about Family Court Services or mediation, contact Morales Law at (805)-422-7966 or at www.mysantabarbaralawyer.com. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. We are Santa Barbara Divorce Lawyers. Factual circumstances will vary and require specific procedures. This is for informational purposes only and should not be relied prior to, or in place of, consulting with legal counsel.