Superior Court of California, County of El Dorado

Our Mission

To preserve and enhance the rule of law in El Dorado County by providing all persons a fair, efficient, and accessible forum for resolving disputes, protecting public safety, and righting wrongs.

Child Custody Recommending Counseling: Focusing on the Child's Needs

Introduction

When parents separate or divorce, decisions need to be made about where the children will live and how they will be cared for. These are important decisions. Sometimes they are also the most difficult. California law states that when parents cannot reach an agreement, they must first meet with a professional mediator before they can go to court.

What's in This Guide

This guide summarizes how court mediation works in California, suggests ways to communicate with the other parent, and provides information about parenting agreements.

Goals of Mediation

  1. Help parents create a parenting plan that is in the best interest of their children.
  2. Help parents develop a parenting plan that, where appropriate, enables their children to have contact with both of them.
  3. Help parents learn ways to manage any anger or resentment between them.

What Happens in Mediation

Mediation is problem solving, not counseling. Your disagreement is seen as a problem to solve, not as a fight. Mediation lets you make your own decisions. You can come up with your own personal contract on how you will care for your children now that you no longer live together. The legal term for this personal contract is "stipulation." It can also be called a "parenting plan" or a "parenting agreement."

What Do Mediators Do?

A mediator meets with both parents, listens to each of you, then works with you so you can come up with a plan you can both agree is best for your child. The mediator's job is to be impartial, keep things fair, help look at different options, help you come up with a calendar for times with the children, and support you in your efforts. Currently our South Lake Tahoe branch offers mediation services in both English and Spanish.

Mediation Rules

  1. Each parent is treated with respect and has an equal chance to explain his or her viewpoint and concerns.
  2. Each parent listens to the other and tries to find realistic solutions.
  3. Each parent is asked to put the children first and focus on what the children need and can handle.
  4. Each parent is asked to show respect for the other and to recognize that their child has a right to a relationship with each of them.
  5. Hitting, pushing, shoving, and threats of any type are not allowed. Mediation is to be a safe place for both parents.
  6. The mediator's job is to see that these rules are followed.

If There Has Been Domestic Violence

If you or a family member has any concerns about domestic violence, please do three things:

  1. Tell your lawyer if you have one.
  2. Answer all of the questions from the judge or mediation intake person about this problem.
  3. Talk to your mediator about this problem at the beginning of the mediation session.

Where to Get More Information

The following web site was designed by the California Courts to help understand Mediation:
http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-familycourtservices.htm

Locations

Placerville Main Street Branch
495 Main St.
Placerville, CA 95667
Phone: (530) 621-6726

South Lake Tahoe Branch
1354 Johnson Blvd., Suite 2
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone: (530) 573-3076

Dates and times for mediation are set by the court.

Orientation

Placerville Main Street Branch has an orientation every Tuesday at 12:00.

The orientation explains terms used in court and mediation. This can also be a time where procedural questions can be answered. Issues about an individuals case will not be discussed in the orientation.

South Lake Tahoe Branch holds orientation on Mondays through Thursdays at 8:00am, one half-hour prior to the mediation session.

Questionnaire

When you schedule mediation, you will be given a questionnaire requesting information about you, your family, your concerns, your proposals and various other pertinent information. We request that the questionnaire be turned in several days prior to your mediation date.

BldgC Snow2 Dec2009