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What is Child Custody and Visitation?
Before parents can address the issues of custody and visitation of their minor children, there must be an underlying action. If the parents are married or in a domestic partnership, one of the parents must file for:
  • Divorce
  • Legal separation
  • Annulment
If the parents are unmarried, either parent must file an action to establish the parental relationship.

Many parents make their own parenting agreement for custody and visitation. When both parents agree, the agreement can be filed with the Court. The agreement can be drafted by working with an attorney or by seeking assistance from the Resource Center for Self-Represented Litigants.Parents are required to complete a mediation orientation program on-line called Our Children First (OCF) prior to the hearing and preferably, prior to mediation. If parents are unable to complete the on-line program they may attend the Our Children First-In Person Program offered on the first Thursday of each month at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

To complete the online Our Children First Program, go to the OCF website.

For more information about attending the OCF in the courthouse, go to the Our Children First at the Courthouse information page.

Mediation is provided at no cost through the Family Court Services Department, formerly known as Conciliation Court. Mediation gives parents the opportunity to discuss with a neutral mental health professional the best plan for their children. If the parents reach an agreement, the mediator drafts the custody and visitation plan. Mediation is most effective when the parents have completed the OCF or PACT programs prior to their mediation appointment. Through the programs, parents learn the importance of focusing on their children’s best interests in developing the custody plan. Family Court Services also offers Child Custody Evaluation services for families who are unable to resolve their custody and visitation disputes.

For more information about mediation, go to Family Court Services Mediation.

For more information about evaluations, go to Child Custody Evaluations.

Parents who believe they may need additional counseling or other services may find a list of mental health professionals who provide services for families experiencing conflict or who perform private child custody evaluations. A list of Parent Education Referrals for High Conflict Parents is also available. These programs focus on the benefits of cooperative parenting, conflict resolution, problem solving and communication skills.

Art Showcased in
Los Angeles Courthouse Jury Rooms
"Must Love Dogs" by Madison Miranda
2010 – 3rd Place Youth

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