Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC)
You get help from a professional
You have a court hearing and will receive a court order
This is Best When:
- You have not been to mediation (CCRC or Private Mediation) in the last six months
- Communication with the other party is difficult
- There is a history of violence or other safety issues
- You have not been able to reach an agreement on a parenting plan with the other party
- There has been a significant change in circumstances (for example, one party needs to move out of the area for work)
- You want a court order
Before deciding that CCRC is the right choice for you, please view the FCS Orientation.
Family Code section 3170 - external link requires Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC) take place whenever issues of custody or visitation are in dispute. This applies whenever a party to the case wants to obtain or change a custody or visitation order, and the other party does not agree to the change.
Child Custody Recommending Counseling is a form of negotiation or mediation between people with the help of a professional Child Custody Recommending Counselor (or Mediator), who is a mental health professional. The Mediator works with the parties to reach an agreement regarding custody, visitation and parenting issues for the child. If the parties reach a full agreement before or during mediation, the Mediator will prepare a report of the agreement that will be available to the parties and the court before the scheduled hearing. If the parties reach a partial agreement or they do not agree on anything, the Mediator will make recommendations to the court on the items still in dispute.
Child Custody Recommending Counseling may include, but is not limited to, interviews with the parents, the child, other parties who may be legally joined to the case, and other individuals and organizations who may have information about the situation. CCRC only addresses what transpired in the recent past and helps you develop a parenting plan for the next year, which you can modify as your situation or your child’s needs change.
Obtaining CCRC Services
There are three ways to obtain CCRC services to assist you in resolving your dispute:
- If you file a request for a court hearing and order for custody and/or visitation issues (using a Request for Order packet), you will automatically be referred to FCS for CCRC, if you have not participated in mediation within the last 6 months.
- The court may refer you directly to Family Court Services following a court hearing. The referral may be for regular CCRC or for an Immediate appointment. An Immediate appointment generally occurs in cases where the court believes either parent presents an immediate danger or risk of harm to the children. This may involve (but is not limited to) possible child abuse, domestic violence, alcohol or substance abuse, or allegations of flight risk or abduction. Parties are usually seen in FCS within a few days of the court's referral and the return court hearing is generally set for 1 to 3 days after that.
- Pursuant to Local Rule 5.18, you may petition the court for an order to participate in Private Child Custody Recommending Counseling (Click on the Private Mediation button on the main FCS webpage to find the necessary forms). Private CCRC is conducted by Recommending Counselors who are not connected to the court. There is a fee for Private CCRC, which you pay directly to the Recommending Counselor.
If a case cannot be mediated at FCS because of a serious conflict of interest, we may refer your case for CCRC by the Family Court Services unit of a nearby county. Conflict of interest exists in cases where one or both of the parties (or their spouses) are family law attorneys; Social Workers in certain departments of Sacramento’s Child Protective Services; Sacramento Court employees; and, relatives, friends, or co-workers of the assigned Family Court Counselor.
Scheduling an Appointment for CCRC
If you filed a Request for Order seeking to establish or modify child custody and visitation orders, a date and time to for the parties to meet with a Mediator will be scheduled. Please note that if a CCRC report was issued within the 6 months before the date you are filing your RFO regarding custody and visitation or your Petition for Confidential Mediation, we are not able to schedule an appointment. If you were referred to mediation during your hearing, mediation will be scheduled once we receive mailing information from both parties. Whether by RFO or court referral, once scheduled, information about the appointment and the paperwork you need to complete will be mailed to you at the address provided to the court.
If a Domestic Violence Restraining Order is in place, or if a party declares under penalty of perjury that there is a history of domestic violence by the other party, the parties are entitled to meet with the mediator individually. Please inform the mediator at the start of your mediation if you are requesting to meet apart from the other party.