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Is child custody mediation required in California?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Child Custody

When parents in California divorce or break up, they have a lot of important matters to discuss with each other. How much time they each spend with the children, what rules the family needs to enforce and how they might make decisions on behalf of their children in the future are all important considerations.

Frequently, parents in the process of ending a relationship with each other may find it prohibitively difficult to reach a mutually-satisfying agreement about what terms are appropriate given the family circumstances. Some parents can make their children their priority and find ways to work with one another. Many others may struggle to agree about the division of parental decision-making rights and parenting time. They may feel as though they must go to family court.

Is mediation a requirement before parents can present their side of the situation to a California family law judge?

California does require mediation, in many cases

In scenarios where parents have already agreed to custody terms, they can potentially bypass much of the legal process that typically occurs during a divorce or when unmarried parents break up with one another. Those who have set their own terms for custody and other key parenting issues can initiate uncontested violence in family court where judges may review the proposed custody arrangement.

In cases where parents cannot agree, contested custody proceedings are necessary. Parental conflicts place a lot of demand on the California family court system. Therefore, the state typically requires mediation in any situation involving a contested custody matter. The goal is to help as many families as possible solve their disputes in a private environment while working with a neutral third party who should always prioritize the best interests of the children above all else. That perspective focusing on the children is also what a judge should employ during custody litigation.

Mediation can give parents an opportunity to discuss their disagreements and find an arrangement that everyone agrees would work for the children. Ideally, custody mediation in California helps parents settle their disagreements and arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement that does not require a judge’s input.

Those who are familiar with the requirements for child custody matters in California may have an easier time navigating the legal system. Having the right information and support can make a major difference for a California parent concerned about child custody matters.