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family court services


View Free Online Family Dispute Resolution Orientation


Family Court Services serves parties who need to file for Dissolution, Separation or Nullity of Marriage; Establishment of Parental Relationship, Petitions for Custody and Support, Motions for Child Custody, Support, or Visitation, Support Enforcement, Guardianship of Minors, Adoption, or who seek protection from Domestic Violence, Civil Harassment, Workplace Violence or Elder Abuse. Parties who need assistance filing any of the paperwork associated with custody, support, or protection can find assistance in our Self-Help center either through appointments or classes.


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  • Child custody and visitation mediation is mandated in Family Code section 3160 and is part of the process of Child Custody Recommending Counseling. However, if you are referred to Family Court Services and mediation is not successful, the child custody recommending counselor will provide information and recommendations to the court in writing before your court hearing
  • Limited investigation in child custody cases may be conducted when ordered by the court, as provided in Family Code section 3112.
  • Pre-marital interviews for juveniles who petition for a marriage license, per Family Code sections 302 and 304.
  • Investigation of Guardianship and Conservatorship petitions pursuant to Probate Code sections 1513 and 1826.
  • Stepparent adoption investigations on requests for adoption, pursuant to Family Code section 9001. Click here for local forms and instructions for filing in Tulare County

The following links provide interactive experiences for kids, teens/preteens, parents, and professionals for learning about what to expect during and after a separation or divorce.


This is the process in which parents who disagree over the custody and/or visitation of their children meet with a counselor in a neutral setting to mediate and work on their own parenting plan. The Family Code provides that parents shall have the opportunity and the right to present the court with their own parenting plan. The focus of the session is on the safety and welfare of your child or children and how you can best care for them as parents living separately. At the end of a session with the counselor, if you have come to an agreement, he or she will provide you and the court with a written stipulation for your signature. If you do not agree, a written report will be completed before your hearing with information from the session and recommendations for a parenting plan and referrals if necessary.


When parents are separated, the parenting plan defines legal and physical custody and time sharing of the children. It can be very general or detailed, depending on your needs, and it can include how you will share time on holidays and special occasions as well as for vacations and other events.



Children should not be brought to the court hearing. If, after speaking with the parents, a child needs to be interviewed, the counselor will make arrangements to do so after meeting with the parents


The law states that children's wishes will be considered when the child is "of sufficient age and capacity to reason." The judge decides when a child has attained this capacity and must only consider the child's wishes, not follow them. If the parents are unable to resolve their custody issues, a recommending counselor may ask to interview the child in order to clarify issues brought up in session. If parents can come to a decision on their own, this may not be necessary. If a child 14 or older expresses a desire to address the court, the counselor will notify the judge and arrangements will be made for that to occur.

Children should not be brought to court unless the court or the counselor has requested that they be interviewed.


The counselor is required by law to report child abuse or neglect to the proper authorities. The counselor is also required by the Family Code to report domestic violence or drug abuse.


In some custody cases, the court needs to obtain more information about family issues in order to make a custody order. A member of Family Court Services will conduct an investigation and report to the court. This can include obtaining information from schools, doctors, and therapists as well as results from assessments for drug and alcohol abuse or domestic violence. There may be a fee imposed for the investigation.



Family Code sections 302 and 304 require that a judge sign a court order allowing anyone under the age of 18 to get a marriage license. Parties who are under the age of 18 who wish to marry are interviewed by a counselor who provides information to the juvenile court judge. The judge then either approves or denies the request to marry. Parties are required to provide certain documentation to the counselor - our office staff can set an appointment and give you the information you need.



The counselor may recommend counseling or other community resources to assist the family. These can include therapy, parenting classes, co-parenting classes, supervised visitation, therapeutic reunification, drug and alcohol assessments, domestic violence assessments and custody evaluations.



For information regarding Family Court Services, call 559-730-5000 ext #6

For information regarding Family Law Filings, call 559-730-5000 ext #3

For the Self Help Resource Center/Family Law Facilitator, call 559-737-5500.



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