Recommending Court Mediation vs. Non-recommending Court Mediation

Recommending Court Mediation vs. Non-Recommending Court Mediation in WestLake Village

Whether or not a mediation recommendation will be made  in your child custody case  depends on the county in which you reside. In both Los Angeles and Ventura counties, couples must attend mediation. However, some counties, such as  Ventura County, are recommending counties. In a recommending county, the Judge will not make custody orders, except sometimes on an emergency temporary basis, until the Court’s Child Services Department holds a mediation with a child custody recommending counselor (CCRC).  If the parties reach an agreement in the mediation, the CCRC will write up the agreement, have the parties sign it, including attorneys if the parties are represented.  The agreement will then be presented to the judge to sign the order.  Where possible, the parent’s agreement regarding child custody is best because parents will more likely work together amicably (i.e. co-parent) for their children’s best interest and comply with an order to which he or she had input and agreed.

If the parents do not come to an agreement in a recommending mediation county, such as Ventura, the mediator will draft a recommendation to the judge stating what the mediator believes to be in the best interest of the child or children. 

Sometimes, the parties can agree on some things, for example, holidays, but cannot agree on all things. In that case, the mediator can draft a partial agreement regarding points of agreement and draft a separate partial recommendation on issues the parents could not agree on.  The judge will then sign the partial custody agreement and proceed with the CCRC recommendation on non-agreed issues.

In NON-RECOMMENDING COUNTIES, such as  Los Angeles County, the parties are required to attend mediation, where a qualified mediator will try to get the parents to agree on some or all issues.  If the parties reach agreement on some issues, the mediator will draft an agreement for the parties to sign regarding those agreed issues.  The judge will later usually sign that agreement making it a Court order unless the judge independently determines that the parent’s agreement is not in the children’s best interest.   The judge always has final discretion on its court orders. However, in child custody issues where the parties NO NOT AGREE in a non-recommending county, the mediator WILL NOT make a recommendation to the Court. The Judge will proceed to decide the issues based on evidence contained in declarations and testimony without a recommendation from the mediator. 

 Mediation may be a helpful tool in guiding couples to reach an agreement with less stress and the parties and the children and with a lower financial burden. Child custody litigation is often the most expensive part of a divorce or paternity case. The success of mediation  will often depend on your unique circumstances as well as whether or not you and your spouse can come to an agreement regarding the best interests of your child or children. 

Richard Ross Associates represents parents in both recommending mediation counties and in non-recommending mediation counties.   

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • This is very important: If you have separated from your spouse before one of you has filed for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, avoid agreeing to and placing into effect a temporary parenting plan arrangement regarding the children unless you will be able to live with this arrangement after the divorce papers have been filed. Once you begin a parenting plan that seems to be working, it becomes the "status quo." It is very difficult to convince a mediator or judge to change the status quo, especially if it is working or appears to be working and is not detrimental to the minor children.
  • If you have not received a judgment dissolving your marriage before the end of the year, you may file an individual tax return under the status of "married, filing separately" or a joint tax return with your spouse. You should consult your accountant as to the advantages of these options. You may obtain special information booklets regarding tax information for divorce or separated individuals from your local IRS office or read the IRS booklet online.
  • To file an action for divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, a person must have resided in the state of California for six months and in the county where the action is filed for three months prior to filing the petition in court. This is true of either the petitioner or the respondent - either person can meet the test and allow a filing. If your spouse meets the residency requirement, you can file even if you do not meet it yourself.
  • The court can and usually will order you to move out of your residence if your spouse convinces the court that you have been violent toward your spouse or threatened your spouse. You could be given ex-parte notice to be in court the next day because your spouse is seeking an order to make you move out and stay out. You can be ordered to leave immediately and not return even if your spouse is not on the property title or lease agreement! Once you are ordered to leave, it is not likely that you will be allowed to return.
  • Before you get a divorce, photocopy all relevant financial documents that you can obtain and store them off-site with a trusted friend or relative. Do not store them in the trunk of your car where they can easily be found and removed by your spouse. There may be both personal and strategic reasons not to tip off your spouse that documents are being reviewed for a possible dissolution proceeding. Make copies of documents that you find in the residence and return the original documents to their original location as soon as possible so that your spouse won't notice that they are missing. It is often advisable to make the photocopies when you are sure your spouse is away for an extended time, such as during a workday. It is advisable to gather as many relevant financial documents as possible while they are still available and before they have been removed or destroyed by your spouse. This will significantly reduce the cost of divorce litigation if the documents do not have to be recovered later. It will also permit us to get a true picture of all community assets and debts as soon as possible.