Home l Referral by the Court l Mediation l Evaluation l Custody and Best Interest of Children l Developmental Stages of Children l Parenting Time l Parents Helping Their Children l Parenting Time Evaluation l Domestic Abuse l Community Resources l Book Resources l Privacy Rights l Fee Schedule
The court may refer a Parenting Time case to Domestic Relations for Mediation, with an evaluation to follow if agreement is not reached, or for evaluation only. When agreement is not reached in mediation, or the court refers the case to Domestic Relations for Evaluation only, each party will be contacted individually by a Family Court officer to arrange an individual interview appointment date.
If the parents agree about the Parenting Time, the mediator will write up the details and send a copy to each parent, and their attorney, if represented. Each parent will then have 10 business days to review the agreement. If there are any concerns about the agreement during this time, one or both of the parents must contact the mediator who will try to help resolve the issue(s). If the agreement is not acceptable after all, the parents will typically be referred to another Family Court Officer for a custody evaluation.
If the agreement is acceptable, the mediator will forward it to the court. If either party has an attorney, the attorney is responsible for providing the court with a stipulation – a formal agreement signed by all parties which then becomes an order. If neither parent has an attorney, the parents will return to court and the judicial officer will make the agreement an order.
If the parents do not reach agreement, typically the case is referred for a parenting time evaluation.
A Family Court Officer will consider all available and pertinent information primarily focused on the non-custodial parent, and his/her relationship with the child, and make recommendations to the court in a written report. A copy of the report is sent to each parent, or to their attorney if they are represented.
Domestic Relations is mandated to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect to Child Protection.
Each parent will:
- Complete a parent questionnaire
- Provide 3 personal references
- Provide professional collaterals (M.D. , School, Childcare, etc.)
- Be interviewed individually at Domestic Relations
The Family Court Officer will typically visit the home of the non-custodial party and also observe the non-custodial party individually with the children. The custodial parent is not evaluated.
Following completion of the Parenting Time Evaluation report to the court, the parents and counsel will attend a court hearing to review parenting time recommendations by Domestic Relations. The Judge or Referee will encourage the parties to settle, and schedule an evidentiary hearing if the parties are still in disagreement. The Judicial Officer may order a temporary parenting time schedule pending the outcome of the evidentiary hearing.
The Judicial Officer’s order will include a detailed Parenting Time schedule, together with any other matters considered to be in the best interests of the child such as requirements to complete parenting classes, anger management, drug/alcohol treatment, counseling. The court may also address financial issues.
The Court Order is enforceable and remains in effect until another order is made to replace it.
Parenting Time Services (PTS)
The court may re-refer indigent parties back to Domestic Relations for Parenting Time Services (6 or 12 months). PTS assists parents with completion of the requirements of the court order (e.g. drug testing, chemical dependency evaluation/treatment, parenting classes , etc.). The Family Court Officer will make a brief written report to the court at the completion.