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Child Custody Mediation and Recommending Counseling

Child Custody Mediation:

Mediation is a chance for parties to arrange a parenting plan that all agree is in the best interest of the child(ren).

With the help of a neutral professional during a 1 to 2 hour appointment, you may work out where the child(ren) will live, how time with the child(ren) will be shared by both parents, how parents will make decisions about important issues for the child(ren), and rules for difficult parental behaviors that arise when parents are separated. You may put agreements about Legal and Physical Custody, holidays, travel, school breaks, and other scheduling issues into your unique parenting plan. You can also make arrangements about childcare, transportation, school matters, substance use when responsible for the child(ren), how parents communicate with one another and the childr(en), and other things that are causing conflict for co-parents or their child(ren). Mediation is confidential and a plan for the child(ren)’s care is made only if parents come to a joint agreement. The content of the Mediation cannot be shared with anyone outside of the session except your attorney of record. Agreements that are reached in Mediation, even if Temporary and/or Partial, will be written down by your Mediator in a document that becomes a Court Order once the judicial officer signs it.

Child Custody Recommending Counseling:

Child Custody Recommending Counseling, also called CCRC, is an opportunity for parties to arrange a parenting plan, with the help of a neutral professional. The Recommending Counselor will review the court file(s) and any evidence in them before the session. During a 1-2 hour appointment, you may focus on where the child(ren) will live, how time with and responsibilities of the child(ren) will be shared by both parents, how parents will make decisions about important issues for the child(ren), a plan for holidays, travel, school breaks, childcare, transportation, child safety and communication. CCRC is not confidential and what you say may be included in the CCRC Report. Recommendations for any disagreements about arrangements for the child(ren) will be made by the Recommending Counselor in the CCRC Report that will be submitted to the court and provided to you (and your attorney of record) by mail or email. The report is considered a Confidential Document and cannot be shared with anyone who is not a party to the case without a court order.

Domestic Violence in Mediation & Child Custody Recommending Counseling:

Partner Abuse Procedures (CA Rules of Court 5.215): If a party to this action has made a written allegation of domestic violence under penalty of perjury or is a party protected by a Restraining Order then Family Court Services will see the parties separately and at separate times and the session will be set by remote appearance. The parties may have a support person present in session. If you are the protected party, you may waive separate sessions, as applicable (Family Code 3181).

A mediator or counselor may exclude a support person if the support person participates in the Mediation or CCRC session, or acts as an advocate, or the presence of a support person disrupts the process of Mediation or CCRC. The presence of the support person does not waive the confidentiality of the Mediation or CCRC (Family Code 6303).

If you want your session to follow rules for partner abuse, please contact the family court services office: 831-647-5891 or

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Appointments and Rules

  • Child Custody Mediation and Child Custody Recommending Counseling are free. THE COURT CAN FINE YOU UP TO $200.00 FOR NOT ATTENDING, NOT COOPERATING, OR FOR CANCELLING WITH LESS THAN FIVE DAYS’ NOTICE [CCP Section 128.5 and JC Rule 227].
  • PLEASE ARRIVE AT LEAST 5 MINUTES PRIOR TO YOUR APPOINTMENT. If you arrive more than 15 minutes late, your appointment may be cancelled, and you may be fined.
  • Appointments for Mediation and Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC) will be set for the next available time and day, unless you make a specific request for a date and/or time that is preferable for you.
  • Voluntary Mediation appointments can be set only when both parties agree to attend and only once every 12 months from your last Family Court Services appointment (even if one of the parties failed to appear or cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice without good cause). To set Mediation before 12 months have passed or when both parties do not agree to attend requires a court order.
  • Child Custody Recommending Counseling will be set only when there is a court order to attend.
  • To get a court order to attend Mediation/CCRC, please contact the Self Help Center or speak to an attorney.
  • If you have been to Mediation or CCRC before, you will be assigned the same professional as you saw before. Reasonable requests for a different professional may be accommodated, when possible.
  • At parties' request in domestic violence cases, at the mediator's discretion, or by court order, mediation may be conducted in separate sessions. When ordered as a separate session, the appointment will be automatically scheduled as a remote (Zoom) session.
  • You have the option to attend via remote appearance (Zoom) for any reason. Please contact Family Court Services to arrange to appear remotely, as needed.
  • In-person attendance is available, but parties may still be connected to their session via remote appearance using their electronic device or a device in the Family Court Services office, since the Mediator and/or other party may be appearing remotely. Masks are encouraged when you attend in person.
  • If you already have an appointment; were ordered to set an appointment; or you have questions or concerns, please contact FCS at:
  • INCLUDE your case number(s), each parties' full name, and all contact information (mailing address, cell phone number, email address, etc.) for each party, and your best days and times of availability for your appointment in your communication with us.
  • Due to staffing shortages, there may be delays in answering or responding to calls, emails, and voicemails. For immediate assistance call: 831-647-5800

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Remote Appearance (attending by zoom or telephone) Rules

To participate, you must read and agree to abide by the below rules of REMOTE attendance. Breaking the rules will be considered a failure to cooperate with the process and can result in penalties and delay of resolution of your case. Please note that when you appear in person you may still be connected to Zoom, as the other party and/or mediator may be appearing via Zoom.


What is said in Mediation sessions is strictly confidential and in Child Custody Recommending Counseling sessions is confidential from others under the law. Persons appearing by phone or video must follow these rules:

  1. Please allow enough time to participate in your session; about one and up to two hours.
  2. You CANNOT record any part of the conversation, use a speaker phone, use your electronic device in public, nor allow anyone to listen to or be present in the room with you for any part of your session.    
  3. Children MUST NOT participate in the session.  The children cannot be in the room with you, listening in, or able to hear the conversation under any circumstances. It is harmful to children to see their parent upset, or hear negative information about their other parent, or hear a parent’s negotiation of parenting time.
  4. You must ensure that you have supervision by another responsible adult, family member, or sibling aged 10 or older for any child of yours aged 7 and under for up to two hours during your session
  5. A party attending by telephone/videocall must be in a quiet, private, uninterrupted, distraction-free location and not in a public environment, nor distracted by driving, working, childcare, or other tasks.

Agreements reached in MEDIATION appointments are written by the mediator, reviewed with the parties, and expected to be signed and returned by you VIA EMAIL during the session:

  1. A party appearing by telephone or video for MEDIATION must have the ability to open an email on an electronic device during the session. 
  2. A party appearing by telephone or video must be able to sign and return any documents received using DocuSign, which requires NO special equipment or other than opening an email sent to the party.
  3. If you do not have email or other electronic means of returning a signed document, you are expected to go to the courthouse before 12pm on the day after your appointment to sign the document in person.

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