Apr. 17, 2014
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Family Court Services

Family Court Services offers several procedures designed to assist parents and/or the Court in making essential decisions regarding child custody and parenting time.

Safety is always the primary concern, along with Family Code Section 3011 – Factors Regarding the Best Interest of (the) Child.

Nearly all parents who are unable to agree on a parenting plan, are referred for a Child Custody Recommending Counseling(CCRC) appointment. Families are entitled to three free hours of CCRC per 12-month period; additional time may be granted by the Court, but with an hourly fee. Fees are charged when one or both parties either do not attend a scheduled CCRC appointment or cancel without at least two business days (48 hours) notice.

For families in which one or more safety or other serious issues have been identified, an investigation may be ordered – either a full evaluation or a partial evaluation, depending on the seriousness of the situation. The Court charges a fee for all investigations.

In rare cases, an emergency appointment may be set within a few days of parties filing Court action. The focus is extremely limited, and there is a charge for the service, plus an hourly fee. 

Information

Child Custody Recommending Counseling 

1. For families that present with some ability to work together.

2. Meet with parents with goal of stipulation.

3. If allegations/issues are limited and are not serious safety/appropriateness, but preclude agreement, counselor will, as possible, check out issue with collateral(s), i.e. teacher, physician, daycare. The counselor will make recommendations.

4. If issues are serious safety/appropriateness or if there are several allegations, the counselor will make safety-related temporary recommendations and will recommend an assessment or evaluation.

Assessment

1. Investigation of serious custody/timeshare issues.

2. Interviews will include parents, children who are old enough and a limited number of collaterals who can provide information on presenting issues.

3. Background checks are obtained, reviewed and collateral interviews made as required: CII, DMV, CPS.

4. Domestic Violence interviews are conducted when allegations have been made on intake forms or if the investigator deems the interview is warranted.

5. Court report is brief and limited to an introduction in which issues are introduced and vital background information is covered, a paragraph listing each parent's concerns, a listing of collaterals contacted, and a summary.

6. Recommendations will focus on presenting issues.

7.Investigator will have the option of changing assessment to an evaluation.

Evaluation

1. An evaluation is a comprehensive investigation of the overall parenting situation, with a focus on serious issues raised by the parents and/or Court.

2. Interviews will include the parents, children of age and collaterals who can address presenting issues, as well as collaterals who see the parent(s) with the children on a regular basis, i.e. coaches, daycare providers, school personnel.

3. Domestic Violence interviews are conducted when allegations have been made on intake forms or if the investigator deems the interview is warranted.

4. The report will be in-depth and inclusive, addressing the presenting issues as well as each parent's ability to provide for the child. Sections will include: parent interviews, child interviews, collateral interviews, background checks and a thorough summary.

5. Recommendations will address the presenting issues in the context of recommendations on the overall parenting plan.

6. The investigation and report will reflect compliance with the Rules of Court.

7. 3118 cases will be evaluations and will follow all requirements of the Family Code and Rules of Court. The Court report will reflect compliance to 3118.

8. Move-aways will follow all investigation procedures and will also address the eight areas introduced in the case of In re marriage of LaMusga.

© 2014 Superior Court of Santa Cruz County