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Child Custody Recommendation Counseling (CCRC)

What is Child Custody Recommendation Counseling (CCRC)?

Brief Answer:

Child custody recommendation counseling is “mediation” for child custody and visitation issues. This mediation is ordered by the Court in Riverside County when a party files a motion, or Request for Order, with the court on issues concerning child custody and visitation. The purpose of such mediation session is for the parties to attempt to reach an agreement for a parenting plan with the guidance of a court appointed neutral counselor.

When does it occur?

Pursuant to California law, mediation is required before parties have a hearing at Court on custody and visitation issues. According to Family Code Section 3170, the Court requires parties to attend mediation at or before the time of the Court hearing. Accordingly, if a party to a family law matter such as dissolution of marriage or paternity matter files a Request for Order for child custody, the Court will set two dates, one of them being a mediation date. The first date will be where the parties attend mediation and the second date will be where the parties go to the local Court and have their hearing before a judge. Mediation is commonly a few weeks prior to the hearing date, but varies dependent upon each case.

Where does mediation occur?

Mediation and the Court hearings are often at different locations in Riverside County. Thus, it is important to carefully examine the paperwork received from the Court with address, date, and time information for both dates above. For instance, if a case is filed in Hemet and assigned to a department in Hemet, mediation will commonly occur at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. However, this is not the case for all matters and as stated above the Request for Order paperwork and attachments will state where the scheduled mediation will be.

Who is present for the mediation?

Parties to the case must personally attend mediation and will meet with a licensed Court appointed child custody counselor. If either party or both parties have attorneys, their attorneys will not be allowed to attend the mediation. If a party lives out of state or not within reasonable driving distance to the mediation, they may request permission to appear telephonically and call in to the mediation.

What happens at mediation?

At the mediation appointment, the parties meet with their appointed counselor and try to reach an agreement for child custody and visitation. The mediator will assist the parties in such attempts. The mediator will ask each party to state what they want for a proposed parenting plan and why and then try to help the parties reach an agreement. Such meeting typically lasts 1-2 hours. If the parties reach and agreement, such agreement will be transcribed by the mediator and later presented to the judge assigned to the case. If the parties do not reach an agreement, the mediator will prepare a recommendation based on the information presented to them and what they feel in the professional opinion is in the best interests for the child(ren) for custody and visitation. Such recommendation will also be presented to the judge assigned to the case.

What happens after mediation?

After the mediation session, the parties will attend their Court hearing in front of the Judge assigned to their case.  The court-appointed mediator will have prepared a written recommendation based on what each party said during the mediation session.  The mediator may also contact other person or interview the parties’ child(ren). The Judge will have reviewed either the mediation agreement or recommendation prior to the Court hearing. The judge may then ask the parties questions on either the agreement or recommendation they received from the mediator. The Court will likely then consider all the of the facts before them and make orders for child custody and visitation.

Is mediation important?

Mediation is very important. As stated above, the family law judge in your case will review the mediator’s recommendation or agreement and consider such in making their decision for child custody and visitation. For example, it is not uncommon for judges to adopt the mediator’s recommendations as their orders for child custody and visitation. If an agreement is reached at mediation, it is common for the judge in your case to adopt this agreement as the order in the case. If a party does not agree to the proposed recommendation or agreement, they will be given an opportunity at their court date to express their disagreement.

It is essential for both parties to be prepared for mediation and understand the significance of the session and the impact it can have on the future court orders in the case.

For more information on child custody recommendation counseling in Riverside County, click here.

For more information on mediation and child custody matters, contact our Temecula office at (951) 249-7022. One of our experienced attorneys will be able to speak with you and set up a free consultation to discuss your questions.