The Colusa County Superior Court Mediator, provides assistance to parties, as an impartial third party in developing a parenting plan/agreement.
The goal of mediation is to develop a parenting plan/agreement that protects the health, safety, welfare and the best interest of your child(ren). Parenting plans outline how parents will care, visit and be responsible for their child(ren) and are meant to provide your child(ren) with a safe and stable way to have close and continuing contact with both parents.
Scheduling an Appointment
A mediation appointment will not be scheduled without submitting a Child Custody Mediation Intake Form. Please download the intake form from the link above, print the form, and fill out all sections. Once the completed intake form is submitted to our office by either party, an appointment will be scheduled and a Notice of Mediation will be mailed to both parties. Both parties must submit the intake form to our office prior to their mediation appointment. Parties will not be allowed to mediate without an intake form.
Please contact our office for further information.
When you separate or divorce, you need to decide who will have “custody” of your children and how they will be taken care of. You also need to decide on visitation, which means how each parent will spend time with the children. There are two kinds of "custody" orders:
- Legal custody, which means to who makes important decisions for your children (health care, education, and welfare), and
- Physical custody, which means who your children live with
The plan for how the parents will share time with the children.
In California, either parent can have custody, or the parents can share custody. The judge makes the final decision about custody and visitation but usually will approve the arrangement both parents agree on. If the parents can't agree, the judge will make a decision at a court hearing. The judge will not make a decision about custody/visitation until after the parents have met with a mediator.
Legal custody can be:
- Joint, where both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about the heath, education and welfare of the children
- Sole, where only one parent has the responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children
Some examples of the decisions or choices parents with legal custody make are:
- School or childcare
- Religious activities or institutions
- Psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy needs
- Doctor, dentist, orthodontist, or other health professional (except in emergency situations)
- Sports, summer camp, vacation, or extracurricular activities
- Where to live
Physical custody can be:
- Joint, which means that the children live with both parents
- Sole or primary, which means the children live with one parent most of the time and usually visit the other parent
Sometimes, a judge gives parents joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody. This means both parents share the responsibility in making important decisions in the children’s lives. But, the children live with one parent most of the time. The parent who does not have physical custody usually has visitation with the children.
- Visitation: When the parent who does not have the children more than half of the time has visitation with the children. Generally, it helps the parents and children to have detailed visitation plans to prevent conflicts and confusion
- Supervised Visitation: When the children's safety and well-being require that visits with the other parent be supervised by you, another adult, or a professional agency. Supervised visitation is sometimes also used in cases where a child and a parent need time to become more familiar with each other, like if a parent hasn’t seen the child in a long time and they need to slowly get to know each other again
- No Visitation: This option is used in situations when visiting with the parent, even with supervision, could be physically or emotionally harmful to the children.
A time-share plan is another term used for visitation plan.
A parenting plan can be a visitation plan, but usually also includes a custody plan that explains who has legal and physical custody.
The law says that judges must give custody according to what is in the best interest of the child. Judges look at the children’s health, safety and wellbeing to decide whether to give custody to one or both parents. Courts also consider any history of abuse by one or both of the parents.
Courts do not automatically give custody to the mother or the father, no matter what the age or sex of your children. Courts cannot deny your right to custody or visitation just because you were never married to the other parent, or because you or the other parent has a physical disability, or a different lifestyle, religious belief or sexual orientation.
In a few cases, if giving custody to either parent would harm the children, courts give custody to someone other than the parents because it is in the best interest of the children. Usually, this is called “guardianship,” where someone who is not the parent asks for custody of the children because the parents cannot care for the children. For more information, see Colusa's Self-Help page.
It is what judges must consider to make their decisions about custody and visitation. To decide what is best for a child, the court will consider:
- The age of the child,
- The health of the child,
- The emotional ties between the parents and the child,
- The child's ties to school, home and their community,
- The ability of the parents to care for the child,
- Any history of family violence and/or substance abuse.
No, with joint legal custody both parents have the right to make decisions and either parent can make certain decisions on their own. It is important that parents cooperate in making decisions that require both parents' attention and to communicate any decisions that they make independently that might affect the other parent.
We recommend visiting the Families Change website. It provides age-appropriate information to help kids, teens and parents deal with a family break up.