The Office of Family Court Services is located at the
Spinetta Family Law Center
at 751 Pine Street, Martinez, CA 94553. Tel: (925) 608-2065. Customer Service Hours are from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm.
Family Court Services provides Mediation appointments free of charge to the parties in all pending Contra Costa cases. Parties will be directed to schedule an appointment when either party files for a court hearing on custody/visitation. Appointments are also sometimes ordered by a judge during hearings.
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, that party is entitled to a separate appointment. Parties must inform the Family Court Services staff of the restraining orders or history of domestic violence when making appointments in order to get a separate appointment.
When does a Family Court Services appointment occur?
Whenever possible, appointments are scheduled at least two weeks before the scheduled court hearing on disputed custody and visitation issues. If staffing shortages result in an appointment being scheduled after a court hearing date, parties can consult their attorney(s) about postponing or “continuing” the hearing until two to three weeks after their Family Court Services appointment. Self-represented litigants with no domestic violence order are eligible to use a Stipulation and Order Re: Continuance of Court Hearing to a Date After the CCRC Appointment (FamLaw-230) form at no charge to request a continuance.
Who conducts the Family Court Services appointment?
The court employs experienced mental health professionals who have specialized training in areas pertaining to children and families. These areas include, but are not limited to, effective co-parenting, conflict resolution, parenting techniques, children's developmental stages, domestic violence, substance abuse, and child abuse and neglect.
Parties can contact Family Court Services by phone at (925) 608-2065 or by coming into the office Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 3:00pm. Family Court Services will schedule an appointment after hearing from both parents and then send the parents written notification of the appointment day and time.
Parents who cannot agree on child custody or visitation issues must go to a Family
Court Services mediation appointment before the judge can make any permanent
orders on that part of their case. Before parents go to their Family Court Services,
however, they are to first complete an online orientation.
Parents must complete the online orientation program along with the intake form at the end of the orientation program at least five days prior to their appointment.
During their Mediation appointment, parents get help planning for their children’s care. This includes talking about when the children will be in the care of the parents. Beginning on March 1, 2018, Family Court Services changed the way parents are served in an effort to get better outcomes for more parents and children. Parents will participate in a confidential mediation appointment focused on helping them reach an agreement about how best to raise their children. The mediator will not make any recommendations to the court if the parents do not reach an agreement. Only those things the parents agree on will be shared with the judge. If the parents cannot agree on most or all of their parenting plan during their appointment, most of the time the judge will make a decision at the next court hearing about any remaining unresolved parenting plan issues.
Family Court Services appointments are for parents only. Children or other parties (such as attorneys, relatives, new spouses) do not participate in appointments except when directed to do so by a judge or Family Court Services staff. Parents protected by a current restraining order or criminal protective order have the right to have a support person attend any Family Court Services appointment, includin separate appointments. Parents need to tell Family Court Services staff when making appointments that they plan to bring a Support Person.
There are currently no childcare facilities at the courthouse. Parents must make arrangements for someone else to care for their children while they attend CCRC appointments and court hearings.
Free Workshop: Making the Most of Mediation
Do you want to get past “No” to get to “Yes” during your mediation appointment? Are you interested in learning how to work more effectively with someone you struggle to work well with? Parents can attend a free, 90-minute workshop aimed at helping them be more successful at their Family Court Services mediation appointments. Parents attend alone. If both parents want to attend, they will be scheduled for different workshops. The workshops are from 3:00pm to 4:30pm at the Martinez Family Law Building on the first and third Thursdays of each month. You can enroll in a workshop by calling (925) 608-2065 between 8:00am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.Click here to view the flyer for this Workshop.