Understanding Your Options in Family Court
Too often parents find themselves feeling at a loss when it comes to custody and visitation cases. They find themselves believing no one is listening to them or that no one is listening to their children. An option available in family law cases is to request counseling for the parties and the minor children under Family Code Section 3190-3192.
In order for the court to order counseling for the parties and the minor children under Family Code Section 3190, the court must find that counseling is in the best interest of the minor children and that there is a substantial danger to the best interests of the minor children. The court must then specifically enumerate their findings of substantial danger.
A few reasons demonstrating substantial danger, but not all, are:
1) lack of parental maturity;
2) child enmeshment in custody dispute;
3) high conflict co-parenting;
4) previous or current domestic violence between the parents or one of the parents and the child; or
5) lack of relationship between one of the parents and the child.
The types of circumstances that can cause a finding of substantial danger are vast in nature, but they are typically present in every high-conflict case.
Once the court has determined that counseling is in the best interests of the children and that there is a substantial danger to the minor children, the court must then enumerate the intended goals and expectations for counseling. This is an important step in the process because this will guide the counselor as to what the counseling must focus on. Once counseling begins, the counselor works with the parents and the minor children to fix the issues that originally brought the family into counseling.
Why is this important?
The reason why this option for parents in high conflict child custody and visitation cases is so important. Under Family Code Section 3190, the counselor has the authority to report to the court on the progress of counseling, whether either party is participating in a timely and good faith manner, or any other issue that the counselor determines is relevant to the best interest of the minor children.
Having a disinterested third party commenting on the case may be very helpful for a parent. It shifts the case from a “he said/she said” to a case with an objective witness, who can provide details to the court than the Family Court Services mediator may not be able to provide.
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Parents should consider this option if they feel like there is “more going on” than the court or the mediator can see on paper or in the short mediation session. Call The Haynes Law Firm, APLC for a free consultation if you are interested in this option.
Crista Haynes is the principal attorney at The Haynes Law Firm, APLC and is highly experienced in the areas of family law, criminal defense and estate planning.