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2011: San Diego Superior Court and Mandatory Mediation: Parenting Plan

If you are a party to a divorce, paternity or legal separation in San Diego who have minor children, your parenting plan may very well be the most important issue in your case. Whether you are legally separating, divorcing or were never married [paternity] and have children, how and when you see your children will be affect the rest of your life and theirs. Under California law, whether your case is a paternity, legal separation or divorce and you have children, you must attend the mandatory mediation unless there is an emergency {such as neglect, abuse or molest} in which case temporary orders may be made on an ex parte basis. In San Diego, the mandatory mediation is conducted by Family Court Services who are licensed clinical social workers hired by the San Diego Superior Court to meet with parents and try to reach an agreement on the parenting plan. As San Diego is a recommending county, if the parents do not reach an agreement at the mandatory mediation, then a written report is prepared and a copy given to each parent and then a copy to the Judge for the hearing. As the Judge’s do not meet with the parents directly, the mediator’s written recommendations are followed by the Judge a majority of the time.

Given the cutbacks to the funding for the San Diego Superior Court and staff, the waiting period from the time of the filing of the order to show cause for custody and/or visitation can mean that the mediation is not set for some time and this can be months. In the main family law court house in San Diego {as well as the Madge Bradley court house, North County court house, East County court house and South County court house, it is not uncommon to have a 60 plus day waiting period from the date of the filing of the motion to the time of the mediation and then another time period for the court hearing. In San Diego County, per the local rules, both parties need to have the written report at least ten days before the court hearing so that each side has time to review and consider. If the report is not available at least ten days before the hearing, a request for a continuance can be made to the Judge to give time to prepare.

What happens between the time of the filing of the motion and the time of the hearing in regards to the parenting plan? As there are no orders, with the exception of the automatic temporary restraining orders on the summons prohibiting the removal of the child or children from the State of California without the written agreement of both parties or a court order, the child or children cannot be removed from California however this does not address the day to day parenting plan. Tension and conflict can increase exponentially when either parent believes they are not seeing their children and that the other parent is interfering. How can you resolve this before the mediation and/or order to show cause so you can see your children?

Our law office can assist with discussing and negotiating a temporary parenting plan which is “without prejudice” and can be changed. This can substantially reduce tension and conflict. Please feel free to contact us for a confidential consultation for your case.

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