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Family Court Services
Location: Hall of Justice, 600 Administration Drive, Room 218J, Santa Rosa CA 95403
Office Hours: 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, *1:00 PM to 3:30 PM Mon-Fri
Court Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Mon-Fri
(707) 521-6800 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM to 3:30 Mon-Fri
*If documents need to be delivered to Family Court Services between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.; these may be dropped off in the Family Court Services drop box, found in the Civil Department (107-J).
How Do I
CHILD CUSTODY RECOMMENDING COUNSELING
The Family Court Services' (FCS) child custody recommending counseling sessions (hereafter referred to as recommending counseling sessions) provide an opportunity for parents to meet with a trained professional to develop a parenting plan that is in the best interest of their children. The Family Law Code governs recommending counseling sessions and sets forth its purposes: In part, to reduce acrimony that may exist between parents, develop a parenting plan that ensures the children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents (absent any risk factors) and to effect a settlement that is in the best interest of the children. Recommending counseling sessions afford the parents the opportunity to develop their own plans to raise their children after the decision to separate has been made, rather than to delegate that responsibility to others, such as mediators, psychologists, evaluators or judges.
IMPORTANT TERMS YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND
Legal Custody: The rights and responsibilities of parents to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of their children.
Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share in the right and responsibility to make decisions for their children.
Sole Legal Custody: One parent has the right and responsibility for making decisions for children.
Physical Custody: How much time the children spent with each parent; where the children live; how day-to-day responsibilities are fulfilled.
Joint Physical Custody: Children spend a significant amount of time with each parent. This does not meant the time must be equally shared by the parents.
Sole Physical Custody: Children reside primarily with one parent, and have visitation with the other parent.
IF THERE HAS BEEN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
What is abuse? Abuse means to hit, kick, hurt, scare, throw things, pull hair, push, follow, harass, sexually assault, isolate, or threaten to do any of these things. Domestic violence is abuse that may be spoken, written, or physical.
Security and safety issues are given serious priority at Family Court Services. If you are protected by a restraining order due to past acts of domestic violence, or sign under penalty of perjury that you have a history of domestic violence (even if you have no restraining orders), you may request to meet separately with the recommending counselor, and/or you can request to have a support person accompany you (Family Code sections 3181 and 6303). If this applies to you, you must fill out the FCS domestic violence form and submit at the time of your recommending counseling appointment (link below). If the Court finds that one parent has perpetrated domestic violence against the other parent, physical and legal custody, as well as time with your children may be affected (Family Code § 3044).
For general information go to: http://www.courts.ca.gov/1042.htm
IF THERE ARE CONCERNS REGARDING DRUGS/ALCOHOL
Family Code Section 3011(d) requires consideration of parent’s “habitual or continual” use of illegal drugs in determining the best interest of the children. Abuse of legal drugs shall also be taking into consideration when ensuing that the children’s best interest are secured.
Share any concerns regarding controlled or illicit substance use and/or abuse to the recommending counselor at the time of your appointment.
MANDATORY ORIENTATION CLASS INFORMATION
The live orientation class is no longer available. The court has an on-line orientation that can be accessed using the link below, titled Orientation Program. By clicking on that link you will be taken to the Orientation program. You must complete the orientation class on-line prior to your Family Court Services appointment and take the certificate of completion to your Family Court Services appointment to show that you have completed the class. The orientation includes important information about logistics and resources, helping children through their parents’ separation, and how to develop a parenting plan.
Please read the following information before entering the orientation program.
While viewing the slides, you can press up or down arrow keys or the "page up" or "page down" keys to move forward or slide back. You must have Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later to view the documents and print out the Handbook and Certificate of Completion. Be sure to click on the video links found within the orientation class.
PERTINENT FCS FORMS
Click here to download FCS intake form (Fill out prior to attending the recommending counseling session and submit upon registering at the FCS counter)