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Los Angeles Child Custody Mediation

Posted By Edwin Castellanos || 2-Apr-2013

What is the purpose of child custody mediation (also known as “conciliation,” “conciliation court,” or “conciliation services”) in Los Angeles? If you have a child custody dispute, you will need to learn more about mandatory requirements under state law for Los Angeles child custody mediation and the various services that can be found at your local courthouse. When you have a dispute over child custody in California, the California Family Code requires parents attempt to resolve child custody issues during mediation. You can find some of the statutory references for mandatory mediation in the California Family Code at Section(s) 3160, 3161 and 3162.

If you’ve already read some of our information related to our child custody practice, then you know our child custody lawyers believe it’s probably best to resolve custody disputes long before you go to court to have a judge make a final child custody determination for you. It’s never a terrific option to have a judge decide what’s best for your children. That being said, we know that developing a parenting plan is not always possible. This is especially true if you are involved in a situation where your case is hard-fought and/or involves domestic violence.

"The Our Children First" Online Orientation to Mediation Program in Los Angeles County

If you have a child custody issue in your Los Angeles divorce, in addition to mandatory mediation you must first attend an on-line mediation orientation/parent education program (“Our Children First”) prior to your mediation appointment. The Our Children First Program takes approximately 60 minutes to complete, and you should plan on completing the program in a single session. However, when using the Our Children First Program you will be given eight (8) hours from the time you initially login to complete the program. Our understanding is that the on-line system records your login and logout times and monitors whether or not you have answered all of the questions fully. Please understand that the Our Children First Program is an orientation to mediation program, and that you are still required to attend your mediation appointment.

Requesting Your Child Custody Mediation Appointment

You can schedule a mediation appointment online by submitting to Family Court Services the Mediation Appointment Request Form. However, you are required to have a Family Law case number to do this. You must have a pending court hearing or you must be in the process of filing for a hearing, and have a child child custody/visitation dispute. Mediation through Family Court Services is free. If you have any questions, you can call the Los Angeles Child Custody Mediation office at the Los Angeles Superior Court at (213) 974-5524.

The following are some of the court locations for mediation in Los Angeles County:

  • 111 N. Hill Street, Room 241, Los Angeles, California 90012
  • 42011 4 th Street West, Room 3575, Lancaster, California 93534
  • 12720 Norwalk Blvd., Room 701, Norwalk, California 90650
  • 400 Civic Center Plaza, Room 110, Pomona, California 91766
  • 1725 Main Street, Room 225, Santa Monica, California 90401
  • 6230 Sylmar Avenue, Room 213, Van Nuys, California 91401
  • 200 W. Compton Blvd., Room 1003, Compton, California 90220
  • 414 W. Ocean Blvd., Room 503, Long Beach, California 90802
  • 300 E. Walnut Street, Room 100, Pasadena, California 91101
  • 900 Third Street, Room 4059, San Fernando, California 91340
  • 825 Maple Avenue, Room 450, Torrance, California 90503

The Child Custody Mediation Process in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles County, the mediation process involves the review of an intake or information form and your court file, if available. The process is intended to help the parties develop a parenting plan that helps protect the health, safety, welfare and best interest of the child or children involved in the custody dispute. While the mediation appointment is mandatory, you are not required to agree to anything you are not comfortable with during the mediation appointment.

Mediators are assigned to the case to help facilitate a parenting plan but you can choose to proceed to a hearing on the issue of custody and visitations if you are not willing to accept the terms of the agreement. If you want to learn more about the training of a mediator and their ethical obligations, including the obligation to disclose any suspected child abuse. If you would like to learn more about he standards for a mediator, you should carefully read California Rules of Court, Rule 5.210 (Court-Connected Child Custody Mediation). You can learn more about local court rules for mediation from the Family Law Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court, at Rule 5.19 (Family Court Services: Mediation, Custody Evaluations and Parent Education).

One of the important things to remember is that mediation is confidential. That means that all discussion in mediation cannot be repeated to the Judge if your matter proceeds to a hearing. If your case involves domestic violence, you can participate in the program and obtain individual sessions. The mediators do not make reports to the court regarding any issues that have been discussed during mediation.

Important: The function of the mediator is to prepare a custody agreement that has been accepted by both parties. If both parents have signed an agreement, typically the parties will have up to ten (10) days to withdraw their consent to the agreement before the agreement becomes final.

Interviews with children are at the discretion of the mediator and you can find reference to this requirement in California Family Code Section 3180.

If you need legal representation for a child custody dispute during your Los Angeles divorce, please request a free initial consultation with Castellanos & Associates, APLC at (323) 655-2105. Connect with us today! For additional California Family Law news and info, please be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebookand Google+!

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