2014: Family Court Services and Mediation Procedures for San Diego Divorce, Paternity and Legal Separation Cases: Some new Procedures

WHAT IS FAMILY COURT SERVICES IN SAN DIEGO SUPERIOR COURT WHETHER YOU HAVE A LEGAL SEPARATION, DIVORCE OR PATERNITY?

In San Diego, Family Court Services is a County Department which is staffed by personnel including Licensed Clinical Social Workers. The only purpose is to try and assist parents, whether married or not, to reach an agreement on their parenting plan. This assistance is for parents who are going through a paternity, divorce or legal separation case. There is no difference in the parenting plans whether you are divorcing, legally separating or were never married such as in a paternity case. If the parents do not reach an agreement in mediation, as San Diego is a “recommending county”, the mediator will make a written recommendation and a copy is given to both parents and to the Judge. The Judge then will make orders consistent with California family law as to the parenting plan.

WHAT ARE SOME NEW PROCEDURES FOR SAN DIEGO MEDIATION?

In the past, it was possible to submit documents to Family Court Services in advance of the mediation without the Court permission. In 2014, you now need Court permission to submit documents. In addition, the time period between mediation scheduling has increased to 12 months from 6 months. The procedures do change and it is very important to keep up with the procedures. You can go to the official San Diego Superior Court website which has information and the contact numbers for mediation for this purpose.

WHAT DOES MEDIATION INVOLVE IN SAN DIEGO?

Mediation involves the parents only meeting with the mediator at the court house where their case is filed. The time period for the mediation may be in the morning or in the afternoon and the date and time of the mediation is listed on the face page of the Request for Order which set the hearing for the custody and visitation. Both parents will meet with the mediator together, unless there is domestic violence or a temporary or permanent restraining order in place, and present their positions. If an agreement is made, the mediator may prepare the written agreement then and both parents sign. When the court hearing comes, then both parents can ask the Judge to make their agreement an order of the Court. It is very important, if you do not reach an agreement, to try and have the mediation recommendation favor your requests.

WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURES NEEDED TO SET A MEDIATION?

In order to set a mediation in San Diego Superior Court, you will need to [normally] file a Request for Order and then serve on the other parent. When the Request for Order is filed, the Clerk will set two dates: mediation and court hearing. The Request for Order must be served in accord with California law on the other parent. Once the mediation is set, both parents must attend and the Judge can impose monetary sanctions on any parent who does not attend without a valid legal reason.

HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP?

The Law Office of Doppelt & Forney, APLC can assist with the filing of all necessary pleadings and the setting of the mediation appointment as well as a court hearing for a parenting plan. Please feel free to contact their office and set your free consultation.

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