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WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT MY FAMILY COURT SERVICES MEDIATION APPOINTMENT?

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The purpose of the mediation is for the parents to talk out custody and visitation issues, and compromise where possible. San Diego County is a “recommending county” which means that the FCS mediators draft reports and make recommendations to the Court after you attend FCS mediation.

You and the other parent will meet with the FCS mediator, who is a neutral third party. Neither of you are allowed to have attorneys present at mediation. Each of you will have the opportunity to present your side of the custody/visitation story to the mediator and tell the mediator what you would like as a custody/visitation outcome. Below is an outline of points to consider when preparing for your Family Court Services appointment:

  • Make sure you have thought about and written out your preference as to vacation times and division of holiday time.
  • Be prepared to discuss past and present arrangements you have with the other parent.
  • Be prepared to discuss the kind of visitation and custody arrangements you think would be best for the child and why.
  • Be prepared to discuss any special problems or concerns you have which might affect the child, such are domestic violence.
  • When discussing your child, do not say “my son” or “my daughter”. It is best to say “our son/daughter”.
  • Demeanor:
    1. Appropriate attire
    2. No eye rolling, sighing, arguing with other parent
    3. Look mediator in the eye when speaking to him/her
    4. Do not label the other parent as having a mental health problem or psychosis-instead describe the behaviors or things that are troubling to your and propose solutions, whether it’s supervised visits, anger management classes, etc.
  • Take notepad with you to take notes.
  • Keep in mind that this is about the best interest of the child and the right of the child to have both parents involved in his/her life rather than this being about the parent’s right to see their child.
  • Exchanges:
    1. How will they occur, when, and where?
    2. Supervised or unsupervised? Curbside or face to face? At school/daycare?
    3. Who fill facilitate the exchanges?
    4. Does there need to be a provision in place regarding a parent who arrives late?
    5. Who will be responsible for transportation to and from?
  • Phone contact with non-custodial parent:
    1. Daily contact at a certain time?
    2. Certain length of time for phone call?
    3. How will the other parent call the child? Will child have their own phone? If so, who will purchase and pay for the phone?

Although no attorney may be present at the FCS mediation appointment, a party has the right to discuss and prepare with his/her attorney.  Should you need assistance in preparing for your scheduled FCS mediation appointment, feel free to contact AGH Law Group.