Child Visitation Attorneys in Ventura County
Ensuring Parents Obtain Quality Time with Their Children
When there is a divorce or the parties to a paternity action separate, the court will have the power to make visitation orders over a child. One of the parties will need to file a Request for Orders, seeking custody and visitation. Upon filing, the clerk will first schedule an appointment for both parties to meet with a court mediator. The clerk will also set a court hearing date which will occur soon after the meeting with the mediator. The court date could be the same day or a few days later.
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How a Court Determines Visitation
The mediators are employed by the courts and have met specific certification, training, and experience requirements. They are typically Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychologists, Physiatrist, basically child development specialists. The mediator will meet with the parties separately and/or together.* The goal of the mediator is to try to get the parties to come to a mutual agreement on a visitation schedule for the child.
If an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft the agreement terms and it will be presented to the judge to sign as a court order at the scheduled court hearing. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the mediator will make a recommendation based on what is in the best interest of the child. That recommendation is given to the judge at the court hearing date who may ultimately decide to adopt the mediator’s recommendation as is or make whatever modifications the judge sees fit before signing it as a court order. The judge will listen to some oral arguments from both parties and could call the parties and/or the mediator to the stand to testify. Usually, any possible testimony at this first hearing is very limited as the judge is under the time pressures of other pending court hearings.
If one or both of the parties disagree with the judge’s decision, an evidentiary hearing can be requested. The judge will make a temporary order and set the new evidentiary hearing court date. At that hearing the judge will have more time to listen to more in-depth testimony of the parties, the mediator, and/or any relevant witnesses, and the parties can present relevant evidence to persuade the judge in their favor. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will issue an order.
You should know that once a court order is issued, either party may request a future modification if there is a change in circumstance
*If one party is fearful or has a restraining order against the other, a “shuttle” mediation can be requested. In this situation, the mediator will talk to each party separately and the parties will be kept separated at all times during the mediation process.
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