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 form.
  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

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

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

Mediation Orientation Presentation

Mediation Orientation Program Video

Parent Handbook

Intake Forms

Parenting Plan Form