If you are dealing with child custody in the state of California, you might be required to go through child custody mediation or Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC). This mediation is designed to help both parties come to an equitable solution to parenting plans and/or visitation, but can feel nerve-wracking if you don’t know what to expect. In this article, our team at Cutter & Lax is sharing what custody mediation is, who’s involved, and what to expect from the process.
The goal of mediation is twofold. One, to help you make or update a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children and lets them spend time with both parents. And two, to teach both parties ways to handle conflict and any residual anger or resentment. This is no easy task, and by no means are you required to come to a parenting agreement during your session(s). However, if you cannot come to an agreement, the judge will decide.
Most mediations involve both parents and a mediator, but if you are uncomfortable meeting with the other parent, or if there is a domestic violence or protective order issue, you are welcome to meet alone with the mediator. Your mediator will be experienced and hold a master’s degree in counseling or social work. They are a neutral pillar who will listen to both sides, help each party look at a variety of options to maximize the best possible solution for your child, and in some California counties, provide recommendations to the judge if an agreement can’t be made.
How Can You Prepare for Custody Mediation?
Typically, mediation only lasts a few hours and can be done in one or two sessions. Despite the short timeframe, this meeting can have a lasting impact, so it is best to come prepared.
6 tips for preparing for mediation:
- Speak with an attorney beforehand, as they can help you thoroughly prepare—offering plan options and recommending helpful documents to bring.
- Bring a proposed plan with you and be prepared to explain why this would be the best option for your child/children.
- Go into your session with an open mind and be ready to listen. There might be another solution that works better for the child/children.
- Speak up if something is unclear. Clarity is crucial when developing a parenting plan. If you aren’t sure about something, ask for clarification so you have a complete understanding of the proposal.
- Be respectful. Show up on time, dress neatly, and try not to raise your voice or speak negatively about the other parent.
- Focus entirely on the parenting plan. Mediation is not designed to resolve child support or any other divorce issue, so focusing on custody will maximize your time with the mediator and ensure a more helpful session.
Our attorneys at Cutter & Lax, Attorneys at Law, we understand how emotional and complex custody options can be, which is why we are here to help. Call us today at (818) 839-2533 to request an initial consultation.