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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 sharing plan.
Mediation is provided in a private counseling office with a court 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 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 court 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 in room 17 at the courthouse and after the other party has been served, go immediately to Family Court Services, room 13 (across the hall) 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.
    5. Prior to your mediation appointment, you must attend Parent Orientation on any Monday from 3:30 to 4:45 in Department 4. If Monday is a holiday, no Parent Orientation class will be held that week.

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
Visitation: The designated time in which the non-custodial parent shall have responsibility of the children.
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.

In preparation for mediation, the following links may be helpful:
Family Court Services Flyer – click here

Frequently Asked Questions – 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:

               Alternatives to Violence

               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