Michelle D. Wallis

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What is the Best Way to Approach Attending a Child Custody Counseling Session in Fresno, Kings, or Tulare County?

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What is the Best Way to Approach Attending a Child Custody Counseling Session in Fresno, Kings, or Tulare County?

As a local family law Attorney or Lawyer, people often ask me about how they should act at a Child Custody Counseling Session with a family law facilitator or counselor out of Fresno, Kings, or Tulare County. First, what is this session, and who conducts it?? A child custody counselor/family law facilitator is a person with a background in therapy and/or mental health who interviews parents to give the Court a recommendation as to what child custody should be —based what is in the best interests of the child. They interview parents or caregivers of a child to ascertain as best as they can what will be best for the children involved in litigation. What is in a child’s “Best Interests” can be somewhat subjective.

However, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of being heard appropriately by the family law facilitator/child custody counselor. First, make sure you or your Attorney have filed all paperwork you want the counselor/facilitator to review ahead of court, so that they can build a truthful picture of your case from your perspective before the interview. This is really important, and cannot be understated. Next, dress appropriately for Court. Please do not come to the interview in a tube top, or cut off shorts, or anything equally inappropriate. Dress like you are going to a wedding, or some other occasion where you would where you would wear a suit or some equally formal attire. Business attire is advisable. This matters, because first impressions matter. If you show up to Court or your interview looking like you understand the rules of appropriate attire, it will subconsciously signal to those around you that you understand what else is going on and it will lend you credibility. This is not to be said that you will not be able to be effective in blue-jeans, but it’s to say that the investigator/counselor is a person, and doesn’t have long to assess you and the other party. By looking and acting appropriately, you will give yourself an inherent advantage. Finally, you MUST refer to your children as “Our” children, not “my children” in a session, and you must try and work with the other side. Even if you are upset with the other party, please take time not to blow up at them in a counseling session. You will have some past history with the other party in all likelihood. Do not let this color your interview. Make sure you focus on what you believe is in your child’s best interests and why. Don’t focus on why the other party is a jerk. It’s not effective and makes you look vindictive and less credible. The exception is if there is Domestic Violence or Abuse. Absolutely speak up and write about that, and make it clear you need a separate session so that you can talk to the recommending counselor/facilitator without fear or intimidation. Fresno, Kings, and Tulare County all employ different systems in their mediation-systems, but this advice is good for all of them. Keep it in mind, and good luck!