How to Sign Up
The court requires every person involved in a case about child custody and visitation to attend an Orientation class before mediation. This is so that you have some basic information on how the Family Court works. You will have many of your questions answered during this class.
You must sign-in for the class. You can do this by:
- Calling Family Court Services at 408-534-5600 (listen to the recording and choose the option for Family Court Services), OR
- Going in person to the FCS office
If there has been domestic violence we will schedule you and the other parent to take the class at different times.
The law says parents who cannot agree about custody and visitation must go to mediation.
In Santa Clara County, parents go to a Family Court Orientation Class first to learn about what will happen in mediation.
You will get a handbook called “Kids, Court & You" that will help you get ready for your mediation. The handbook gives you information on:
- child custody and visitation
- child development
- co-parenting & parallel parenting arrangements
- tips on how to avoid arguments what happens if the parents can’t come to an agreement during mediation
Our Parent Orientation and Mediation teaches parents how to:
- Understand the needs and feelings of their children after separation.
- Handle their own feelings in the best way possible for their children.
- Spot warning signs in their children.
- Separate themselves emotionally from the other parent.
- Reduce conflict with the other parent.
- Develop new skills for getting along with the other parent.
- Communicate appropriately with each other after separation.
- Maintain safety in domestic violence situations.
You will get information and help to create a parenting plan that works for your family. We will tell you about different types of parenting plans. You will learn how mediation helps you and the other parent to agree on a parenting plan and resolve your custody disputes. And you will get a chance to ask questions about your situation.
The classes are free.
Usually, a Family Court Services staff member teaches the class.
If you have attended Orientation any time after July 2001, you do not need to attend again.
What happens if you don't go?
The law says parents who cannot agree on custody and visitation MUST go to mediation. The court may fine you if you do not go, or if you cancel your appointment late. (See the Family Court Services fee for "No Show/Late Cancellation fee" on the local fee schedule .)