Child Custody and Visitation FAQ's
What is Child Custody Recommending Counseling?

Recommending Counseling (CCRC) services are provided to parents to help them decide custody and visitation issues for their children and develop a parenting plan.  These services are also referred to as mediation.

Who provides the Child Custody Recommending Counseling services ?

CCRC services are conducted by Recommending Counselors who are mental health professional with at least a master’s degree in the field of psychology, marriage, family and child counseling or social work, and a minimum of two years clinical experience.

Who can participate in Child Custody Recommending Counseling?

Typically, only the parents are allowed to participate in the CCRC session.  In cases of domestic violence, a support person may be allowed to attend the session; however, the support person cannot participate in the discussion.  Attorneys are not allowed to participate in the CCRC session and children should not participate in the CCRC session.

What is a 'children's interview'?

A children’s interview is a meeting between the Recommending Counselor and your children. This interview is separate from the meeting between the Recommending Counselor and the parents. The Recommending Counselor can decide to interview the children, or the Judicial Officer might order it. The purpose of this meeting is to gain a better understanding of your children’s needs so that the court can make orders in their best interests.

What is ‘legal custody’?

Legal custody refers to who will be allowed to make legal decisions on matters related to your children, including but not limited to education, participation in extra-curricular activities, medical care, dental care and mental health services. In California, the courts presume that legal custody should be shared between both parents but there are several exceptions to this presumption where the court may grant sole legal custody to one parent.

What is ‘physical custody’?

Physical custody refers to which parent your children live with and when. Joint physical custody means the parents are sharing time with the children. The children spend time at each parent’s house, including overnight stays, according to a schedule that is best for the children. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean the children are spending exactly half of their time with each parent (often referred to as 50/50 physical custody).

What does it mean when the Judge orders ‘visitation’ for one parent?

If one parent has sole physical custody, or has the children the majority of the time, the court may order a visitation schedule for the other parent to ensure frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Visitation is also known as ‘parenting time’.

What is ‘supervised visitation’?

Supervised visitation is ordered when one parent is believed to present a safety risk to the child in an unmonitored setting, or there has been a prolonged absence of a parent and reintroduction is necessary.  Supervised visitation involves a responsible third party being present during the visit and monitoring the visit to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. 

Who can be a supervised child visitation provider?

The qualifications to be a supervised child visitation provider vary depending on whether the court orders a non-professional or professional provider. The requirements for both are listed under 'Categories of Supervised Child Visitation Providers' and the California Standards of Judicial Administration (Standard 5.20). Please note that who will provide the supervised visitation and the manner and terms in which supervision is provided is determined by the Judge at your court hearing, or through a stipulation of the parties.

Once the Judicial Officer has ordered professional supervised child visitation, how do I find a provider?

If the Court orders professional supervised child visitation, it is recommended that you do your research to select a provider who meets the qualifications, follows the standards of supervised visitation and provides a friendly, safe and fair environment for everyone in your family. As a public service, the Superior Court of California, County of Riverside has a Supervised Child Visitation Provider List available. Although the court is making this list available, the court has not and does not screen or evaluate the providers, their facilities, or the information they have provided (Disclaimer).

What if I have a complaint or concern regarding the professional supervised child visitation provider?

Complaints should be addressed directly with the service provider. If the issue cannot be resolved, the parties can agree to another provider or the matter can be brought back to court to request a different provider.

What is a ‘parenting plan’?

A parenting plan is a legal document that outlines legal and physical custody, as well as any visitation schedules, for your children. The Recommending Counselor will help parents develop a parenting plan that both parents can agree to and is in the best interests of the children. The court strongly urges parents to construct their own parenting plan with the assistance of the Recommending Counselor in order for parents to maintain as much control over the outcome as possible.

What happens if we can’t reach an agreement regarding a parenting plan?

If you and the other parent cannot agree on a parenting plan, the Recommending Counselor will prepare a recommended parenting plan to the court for consideration at the hearing.

How can I get a copy of the Recommending Counselor's recommendation?

You may receive the Recommending Counselor’s recommendation by email or facsimile if you indicated this on the CCRC questionnaire. If you did not indicate that you would like to receive the Recommending Counselor’s recommendation by email or facsimile, you can pick up a copy at the Family Court Services (mediation) office prior to the hearing. Please note that you will only receive one copy of the recommendation free of charge.

What if I don’t agree with the Recommending Counselor’s recommendation?

You will have an opportunity to preview the Recommending Counselor’s recommendation and raise any concerns regarding the proposed parenting plan at the time your case is heard in court.

Can I submit documentation to the Recommending Counselor during the CCRC session?

The best way to share documents with the Recommending Counselor is to file the documents with the Clerk’s Office. This allows the Recommending Counselor and the other parent an opportunity to preview the documents prior to the CCRC session. If information has not yet been filed with the court or presented to the other parent, the Recommending Counselor might consider the information but you will be required to share the information with the other parent first.

Can I talk to the Recommending Counselor alone, either before or after the CCRC appointment?

Generally, the Recommending Counselor is not allowed to talk to you or the other parent outside of the CCRC session. This is not allowed for your benefit, as well as the benefit of the other parent since both parents have the right to know and respond to what each has said. One exception to this rule is when meeting with both parents at the same time jeopardizes the safety of one or both parents. If you have any safety concerns, please notify the clerk upon check-in and you will be given the option of meeting with the Recommending Counselor separately, without the other parent in the same room.

What if I miss my CCRC appointment?

You will still need to appear at your court hearing and explain to the court why you missed your CCRC appointment. The court may refer you to Family Court Services to set up another CCRC appointment, sometimes on the same day as the hearing.

Can I request a continuance of the CCRC appointment?

If you want to continue the CCRC appointment only and not the hearing, both parties must agree to the continuance. Parties can jointly file a Stipulation to Continue CCRC Appointment (RI-FL042) at least five days in advance of the CCRC appointment.

How does substance abuse (drugs or alcohol) affect the parenting plan?

The Recommending Counselor is trained to consider the impact that any substance abuse might have on your ability to safely care for your children and will recommend a parenting plan that considers the best interests of your children.

I’m afraid to meet with the other parent to talk about custody and visitation issues. What can I do?

You have a right to wait in a separate area and meet separately with the Recommending Counselor if you have any safety concerns. If you have any safety concerns, please notify the clerk upon check-in and you will be given the option of meeting with the Recommending Counselor separately, without the other parent in the room.

Can I participate in the CCRC appointment by telephone?

The Assistant Deputy Executive Officer (ADEO) of Family Court Services can approve the option of participating in the CCRC session by telephone under a limited set of circumstances, such as the parent no longer lives or works in Southern California. Please contact the Family Court Services (mediation) clerk at least five days in advance of your CCRC appointment to request a telephonic appearance. The Family Court Services clerk will explain the process to you and submit your request to the ADEO of Family Court Services for review.

Is Child Custody Recommending Counseling confidential?

In Riverside County, the CCRC sessions are not confidential and anything said in session may be shared with the judicial officer. Additionally, the Recommending Counselor is required to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect to the appropriate Child Welfare Agency.

How much importance does the Recommending Counselor give to what the children want?

Several factors are considered when weighing the children’s input, including but not limited to the child’s age, level of maturity and level of understanding. Contrary to popular belief, there is no set age at which a child can automatically decide which parent he/she will live with.

Does the Recommending Counselor attend my court hearing?

The Recommending Counselor will only attend the hearing when the court orders the Recommending Counselor to testify as an expert witness, or if either party has subpoenaed the Recommending Counselor to testify.

If paternity is in question, will we be seen in mediation prior to the court hearing?

Yes, unless the judicial officer orders otherwise. Mediation typically occurs even when paternity is in question and/or DNA testing has been requested.

If the other parent and I are still living together (both living in the same house), will we be seen in mediation prior to the court hearing?

No, unless the judicial officer orders otherwise. Mediation is typically not conducted unless the judicial officer assigned to the case orders it.

If we have custody and visitation orders from another court (from California, another state or a different country), will we be seen in mediation prior to the court hearing?

Usually no, unless the judicial officer orders otherwise. Mediation is typically not conducted if there are existing custody and visitation orders from another county, state or country. Jurisdiction of the case will be determined by the judicial officer prior to the case being referred to mediation.

© 2016 Superior Court of California, County of Riverside