Family Court Services - Overview Print this Page
Phone: (415) 444-7090
Location: Civic Center, Hall of Justice, Room 116
Office Hours: 8:00am - 4:00pm

Family Court Services provides child custody recommending counseling (hereinafter "CCR counseling") services. California law requires parents who are unable to agree on a child-sharing plan to attend CCR counseling before a court hearing to try to reach agreement. CCR counseling gives parents an opportunity to resolve child-focused disputes by reaching agreement about these issues. Parents usually feel better about these arrangements when they have input into the decision-making process. If they cannot agree about time sharing arrangements for minor children, the judicial officer presiding over the case will issue orders regarding the time sharing arrangements.

Child custody and visitation CCR counseling is free and does not require the assistance of an attorney. It is intended to help parents through difficult changes in their family structure with dignity and support. The child custody recommending counselors, all skilled professionals in the mental health field, have a great deal of experience with children and can assist parents who need to make wise, but difficult, choices during stressful times.

Family Court Services works with parents who have never married, who are in the process of divorcing, or who have separated some time ago but have reached a new turning point in their lives and need help making co-parenting decisions. Occasionally, Family Court Services works with grandparents and adoptive parents.

Family Court Services' goal is always to empower both parents equally in order to reach decisions that both parents can support. When parents jointly reach decisions, their children maintain a sense that both are equally important and involved in their lives. This does not necessarily mean that children will spend exactly the same amount of time with each parent (it is often impossible or undesirable to divide time evenly), but it does mean that each parent should feel he or she has significant time with the child and makes an important contribution to the child's life. Children fare better in these stressful situations when they feel loved by both parents and are encouraged to love and respect each parent.

An Introduction to Family Court Services.

Coming to Family Court Services for CCR counseling may seem frightening and confusing for parents and children. Please view the CCR Counseling Orientation materials below for answers to the most frequently asked questions about this process. Family Court Services is available to parties throughout the CCR counseling and resolution process.

Even after custody and visitation agreements are reached by parents, sometimes circumstances change which require a modification to existing agreements. Family Court Services is available to help parents resolve disputes in these situations as well, until all minor children are 18 years of age.

Child Custody Recommending Counseling Orientation Online or In Print.

Parties are strongly encouraged to learn about the process in Family Court Services. Family Court Services offers an Orientation presentation online. For more information, a booklet including a printed version of the slideshow is also available online. Download free Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing and printing the orientation materials.

Child Custody Definitions.

Sole legal custody means that one parent has the exclusive right to make decisions affecting the health, welfare and education of a child. More commonly, the Court awards "joint" legal custody of children to both parents so that both continue to be involved in important decisions affecting their children.

Joint legal custody describes shared parental decisions over the child's health, education and welfare, but this does not mean that all decisions require parental concurrence on a daily basis.

Sole physical custody is granted to one parent, but the Court almost always grants visitation rights to the other parent.

Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean that the child spends equal time with each parent. In fact, an order for joint physical custody may specify that the child's primary residence will be with one parent.

Please note: A joint custody court order does not necessarily mean that a child must split all of his or her time equally between parents. A parent's financial stability, relative to the other parent, is not a factor in determining the custody arrangements for the children. The Court's primary focus is on the child's needs, and thus on emotional -- not material -- factors. Accordingly, if a parent's financial resources are insufficient to provide proper care for the child, the remedy is a child support award, not denial of custody. In determining custody of minor children, California law requires the Court to make orders that serve the 'best interests of the child.' Accordingly, the Court seeks to achieve that standard in its custody and visitation orders.

More Information on Child Custody Recommending Counseling.


California law requires parents who are unable to agree on a child-sharing plan to attend child custody recommending counseling before a court hearing to try to reach agreement.

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