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Family Court Services

Family Court Services (FCS) provides mediation in family law cases when separating or divorcing parents cannot agree on a child custody parenting plan.
Mediation is provided in a private counseling office with a child custody recommending counselor. The mediation conference allows both parents to work together toward a mutually acceptable agreement which is in the best interest of the children. The mediation session will last approximately 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. For additional information, view the Mediation Orientation Presentation and the Parent Handbook.

Mandatory Mediation
In any dissolution matter regarding child custody and visitation where there is a dispute, Family Code Section 3170 mandates that the case will be set for mediation prior to the court hearing. If agreement is reached, it is reported to the court (through the attorneys) and thus the court hearing may be cancelled since the family made its own decision. If no agreement is reached, a recommendation will be made by the child custody recommending counselor and the court hearing will proceed.


    1. Fill out item 2 on your Request for Order. To access the new Request for Order form, click here.
    2. After filing your Request for Order packet at the clerk's office at the courthouse and after the other party has been served in a timely manner, go immediately to Family Court Services, or call 530-527-2170 to schedule an appointment.
    3. You must provide a copy of your Proof of Service to Family Court Services before an appointment can be scheduled.
    4. Prior to your mediation appointment, you will need to fill out an intake packet, which can be found on this site. Please arrive 15 minutes early if you have not completed the intake packet.
    5. Prior to your mediation appointment, you must attend Parent Orientation on any Monday from 3:30 to 4:45 at Family Court Services. If Monday is a holiday, no Parent Orientation class will be held that week. Please refer to the Family Court Services Flyer on this site for a schedule of orientation classes.

The Purpose of Family Court Services
Consistent with the spirit of California law, the purpose of Family Court Services is to:

    1. Assist families in the settlement of domestic controversies involving the welfare of children where there is an action in Family Court.
    2. Try to ensure children get frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the dissolution of marriage or end of a relationship.
    3. Encourage parents to cooperate and share the rights and responsibilities of parenting during and following a dissolution.

Legal Terms Relating to Child Custody
Timeshare: The designated time in which the non-custodial parent shall have responsibility of the children, or the specific time allotted to each parent.
Legal Custody: The rights and responsibilities of parents to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share in the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of a child.
Sole Legal Custody: One parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of a child.
Physical Custody: How much time the children spend with each parent; where the children live; how day-to-day responsibilities are fulfilled.
Joint Physical Custody: Children spend a significant amount of time with each parent.
Sole Physical Custody: Children reside primarily with one parent and spend far less time with the other parent.

In preparation for mediation, the following may be helpful:

First Steps After Being Referred to Mediation:

  1. Go immediately to Family Court Services and schedule an appointment and complete your intake form.
  2. Plan to attend the Parent Orientation Class prior to your mediation appointment. (See class schedule information on Family Court Services Flyer). No appointment necessary class is drop in.

Family Court Services Flyer – click here

PowerPoint Presentation “Mediation Orientation Program” – click here.

Link to Video on “Mediation Orientation Program” – click here.

Parent Handbook – click here.

Intake Forms – forms that must be filled out prior to mediation appointment – click here

Parenting Plan – to assist you in preparation for your mediation appointment – click here

Other Useful Links:

               Empower Tehama

               North Valley Catholic Social Services

               Children First

               Kids' Turn

               Family Law Facilitator

               Tehama County Self-Help

               Activity Book for Children Who are Going to Court

               California Courts Online Self-Help Center