The short answer is “yes,” it is very important. When there is a contested request to establish or change child custody orders in Riverside or San Bernardino County, a judge may order the parents to attend something called mediation. It also goes by other names like "Family Court Services" or "Child Custody Recommending Counseling." Mediation is a counseling session that the parents must attend with an appointed counselor to hopefully work out an agreement regarding child custody and visitation.
No family members, friends, or even attorneys are allowed to attend or participate in the session. It is an intimate setting with only the parents and the mediation counselor. If the parents are able to reach an agreement, then the mediation counselor puts the agreement in writing; otherwise, the mediation counselor prepares a report and makes recommendations as to the custody and visitation arrangement that serves the best interest of the child.
If your case is pending in what is known as a “recommending jurisdiction” such as San Bernardino or Riverside County, then the mediation counselor's report and recommendations regarding custody and visitation will be sent to the judge who will then consider it in his or her decision. This makes the role of the mediation counselor significantly more important.
These mediation sessions are usually scheduled at least two weeks prior to the hearing date. The mediation counselor must complete their report and make their recommendations at least 48 hours before the hearing date as well.
Generally speaking, judges will be more inclined to adopt whatever the mediator recommends. Unless they are persuaded or otherwise disinclined, judges will typically trust the mediator's findings and recommendations.
For this reason, it is very important to make a good impression on the mediation counselor. It would be very beneficial to have a mediator's recommendation that is favorable to you in your child custody case.
You will need to be prepared for the mediation session just as carefully as you would for the court hearing date itself. It is important to know what is relevant or not to a mediation counselor. You will also need to realize that your conduct and appearance can also make an impression, so it is not only what you say but how say it.
For more information about child custody, contact us at Lee Lyu Martell. We are here to answer your questions. We can be reached at (909)381-0074.