What are alternatives to reconnecting with my child/grandchild without going to family court?
Below we describe other ways you can reconnect with your child without going to family court:
- Informal Custody or Visitation Plan: Parents and caregivers can make their own arrangements for custody and visitation without going to court. But, if the parents or caregivers can no longer agree on an arrangement for the care of the child then one or both of the parents or caregivers will have to go to court to ask a judge for a formal custody or visitation plan. This formal plan will be binding and enforceable as a court order.
- Mediation: Before granting or changing custody or visitation for your child, the judge will hold a hearing. The judge may require you and the other parent to attend mediation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (known as ADR) method to help people resolve their disputes without having to spend time and money going to court. In mediation, the parents or caregivers have the help of an expert (a mediator) in resolving these disagreements. The goals of mediation are to:
- Help you make a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your children.
- Help you make a parenting plan that lets your children spend time with both parents.
- Help you learn ways to deal with anger or resentment.
- Mediation can be voluntary (by choice) or ordered (required) by the court. For more information on mediation in family court, see Appendix B (and for more information, see Form FL-314-INFO, “Child Custody Information Sheet – Child Custody Mediation,” available online at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/fl314info.pdf).
FREE RESOURCES on Custody & VISITATIONFor information on custody and visitation, check out the following resources:
- IMPORTANT! For ALL family-related legal issues, the Family Law/Self-Help Facilitator who works at your county’s local family court can help you fill out and file your papers. See Appendix A, PG. 797, to find your local Family Law Facilitator.Custody & Parenting Time (Visitation), by the Judicial Council of California: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-custody.htm Child Custody and Visiting Rights Manual for Incarcerated Parents, by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC): http://www.prisonerswithchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Incarcerated-parents-version-12.11.12.pdf Incarcerated Parents Manual, by LSPC: http://www.prisonerswithchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/IPM-final-2-12-2015.pdf Manual for Grandparent-Relative Caregivers and Their Advocates, by LSPC: http://www.prisonerswithchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Manual-for-Grandparent-Relative-Caregivers.pdf Bill of Rights for Incarcerated Parents, by LSPC: http://www.prisonerswithchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Incarcerated-Parents-Brochure-22.pdf Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents, by the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership—http://www.sfcipp.org/index.html
For grandparents, check out the following resources:
- Manual for Grandparent-Relative Caregivers and Their Advocates, Third Edition, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, http://dredf.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Manual-for-Grandparents-Caregivers_2002.pdf, by Ellen Barry, River Ginchild-Abeje, Cassie Pierson, Lucy QuacinellaHandbook for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children, http://dredf.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Manual-for-Grandparents-Caregivers_2002.pdf
IMPORTANT REMINDER: If you have a restraining order or no-contact against you of any kind, make sure you follow the conditions of that order BEFORE you attempt to contact your child’s caregiver or other parents to make sure you do not violate the order! If you are UNSURE if you have an order against you, see PG. 728 on how to find out if there is an order against you and what you can and cannot do.
Child custody mediation gives parents a chance to resolve disagreements about care and custody for their children, with the help of an expert (a mediator). The goal of mediation is to develop a parenting plan that is in your child’s best interest, and that allows your child to spend time with both parents (or caregivers). Child custody mediators are available for free through Family Court Services at most local courts. Cal. Fam. Code § 3160 et seq. ↑
Cal. Fam. Code § 3161. ↑