If you are involved in a family court case in San Diego County and there are issues of child custody rights and visitation, at some point you will need to attend court-ordered mediation with Family Court Services. This usually takes place prior to any court hearing on these issues. 

Mediation for Custody Rights

Mediation takes place in a confidential setting with a trained family court counselor and results in what is called Recommending Mediation, meaning that the counselor, after interviewing both parents, will submit a recommendation to the parties and to the judge for review and consideration. 

If the parties don’t appear to object to the recommendation at their subsequent court hearing on custody and visitation, the orders will automatically take effect. If you want to change your orders later on, you will need to submit a motion and request for court hearing.

It is a good idea to watch the orientation video from Family Court Services (FCS) on their website prior to attending the mediation and discussing custody rights. This will give you an idea how the process works and what to expect from the process.

There is also good information on the FCS website about what you should do before and during the process and this should also help you prepare. Importantly, come to mediation with a plan in mind:

  1. What kind of parenting schedule do you want to follow? Why is this best for the children?
  2. Once you have read and understand the difference between physical custody and legal custody, what kind of parenting plan do you want? Do you want sole custody? Joint custody? Why do you believe it is in your children’s best interest to follow the plan you propose?
  3. Anticipate problems in future like transportation, school activities and events, holidays, summer vacation, spring break, birthdays, and come in with a proposal to cover these issues.
  4. How well do you communicate with the other parent? Are things amicable or tense between you? Is there a restraining order? (if yes, you may attend mediation separately) What is the best way for you to communicate, i.e., email, phone, in person, by letter? How to keep things peaceful during custody exchanges, especially in front of the children?
  5. Any issues of domestic violence, both physical and emotional, that you need to bring up? Does the other parent abuse prescription or recreational drugs? Do they have a criminal history?
  6. Where will the children live during the school year? During the summer? How far away are the parents from one another? How old are the children and what are their needs in regard to childcare and school?

Why to Work with Qualified Attorney for Custody Rights

These topics and others can be discussed with your San Diego family law attorney. They can help you make plans for custody, visitation, timeshare, holidays, transportation, communication and much more, plus she can explain the legal rules that apply to custody and visitation and how they are applied in the court system. 

Legal advice is extremely helpful at the beginning of your journey through custody and visitation issues in the court system, as it allows you to go through such steps as mediation with your eyes open and with the assurance you have the backing of a competent and experienced attorney.

The upside of having an attorney is getting good legal advice and guidance on how to navigate the court system and how to manage your expectations. Hiring an experienced attorney, like those at JWB Family Law, will help to move your case along smoothly and make sure your legal and custody rights are protected by properly presenting your case to the court. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your case.