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When may a San Diego Superior Court Judge, in 2014, Order Counseling in Your Custody and/or Visitation Case for a Paternity, Divorce or Legal Separation?

When Would A Judge Order Counseling in a Family Law Case in San Diego For A Legal Separation, Paternity or Divorce?

Whether your case involves children while you were married or not married, the standard for a Judge ordering counseling is the same whether a divorce, legal separation or paternity. The Court may order [in the complete discretion of the San Diego Judge] counseling for the parents and child in a child custody proceeding for a period not to exceed one year if the Judge finds that the parent’s disputes, or alternatively a dispute between the child and parent[s], poses a substantial danger under the best interests test to the minor child and that it is in the best interests of the child to participate in counseling. The purpose of the counseling, and for this it does not matter if the case is a paternity, divorce or legal separation, is to facilitate communication between the parents regarding the best interests of their minor child or children in order to improve the quality of the parenting skills of each party as well as to reduce conflict regarding the parenting plan as much as possible. If there is a history of domestic violence with the parents or the child, then the counseling can be ordered separately.

Who Pays For The Counseling?

The San Diego Superior Court Judge will review each parent’s financial circumstances to determine the financial burden and to make sure that this does not place into danger the parent’s other financial obligations however, if there has been a history of abuse against the child or other parent, the Court can consider this separately. The Court can “fix” the cost so that each party pays 50%, one party pays 100% or some other allocation given the Judge’s determination. When the Court makes a finding for Court ordered counseling, the Court must state the reasons for the Order given the following: counseling is in the best interest of the child and the dispute between the parents constitutes a substantial danger to the best interests and that the payment will not create an economic hardship to the extent that it jeopardizes a parent’s ability to pay for other financial obligations. This is a very important consideration since counseling can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Why Judge’s Rely On Counselor’s & Expert Opinions?

The Judge is a finder of fact [in family law cases since no jury] and also a finder of the law. In these custody and visitation cases, many times the parents are positing different versions. How is a Judge to know what is the truth? As with the mandatory mediation in San Diego Superior Court with Family Court Services, the Judge relies on the Mediator for the finding of the facts and then also can supplement with oral testimony or other Court orders. In these most hotly contested family law cases which involve counseling, the Judge will look to the Counselor’s report and information and then make the decision after a hearing.

How Doppelt and Forney, APLC Can Help You With Counseling Issues In Your Family Law Case

Doppelt and Forney, APLC is a local San Diego family law firm. The attorneys have experience with San Diego experts and Counselors and can assist in making recommendations and also guiding you through this most difficult process Feel free to call or e mail their law firm for a complimentary and confidential consultation.

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