Many parents know that in order to pursue their child custody rights in Placer County, they have to file a court motion with the Placer County family court requesting custody or visitation time.  What many parents do not know is that they must attend mandatory mediation before a Placer County family law judge will substantively hear their case.  So why is Placer County child custody mediation important?

It is important because it has a profound effect on how a parent will share time with their child.  The typical child custody process involves the following steps:  First, a parent files a child custody and visitation motion with the Placer County family court to request child custody or visitation rights.  Second, after receiving the motion, the court automatically refers the case to Placer County Family Court Services (FCS).  Third, FCS then notifies both parents of their mediation contact information.  Fourth, each parent attends an orientation class led by an FCS employee.  Fifth, the parents contact their specifically assigned child custody mediator to set up their appointment.  Sixth, the parents attend and complete their Placer County child custody mediation appointment.

While attending child custody mediation, the mediator (also known as the Child Custody Recommending Counselor or CCRC) will encourage the parents to discuss their differences and to reach agreements.  The mediator is not assigned to ensure that one parent “wins” and the other parent “loses.”  The mediator also does not want to spend valuable time trying to figure out which parent did more wrong to the other parent.  The mediator is concerned about the recent past history of each parent’s visitation with the child.  The mediator is also concerned with trying to arrange a visitation plan that is in the child’s best interest.  The mediators typically favor joint custody arrangements and eventual 50-50 custody arrangements, (though there are biased mediators out there who are more pro-mother or pro-father).  If the parents reach an agreement, the mediator will recommend that the agreement be adopted as a court order.  If the parents do not reach a full agreement, the mediator will recommend a visitation plan.

After completion of mediation, the Placer County family court is assigned to review the conclusions contained in the mediator’s report.  With a few exceptions, the Placer county family law judges will adopt the mediation report recommendation.  We have found that the judges typically respect the mediator’s judgment and analysis in arranging parenting time.  The family law judges also have clogged calendars and do not have excessive time to debate the merits of a report.

If you are involved in a Rocklin, Roseville, or Placer County child custody action, please give us a call.  We can help you understand the Placer County mediation process and prepare to meet your assigned mediator.  If you have already met with your mediator, we can discuss your legal remedies to address a poor recommendation.  We offer free half-hour attorney consultations with experienced child custody and visitation attorneys.