In cases where parents are continuously returning to court for disputes pertaining to their children such as custody, visitation, education or medical decisions, family counseling may help reduce the parties’ conflicts and teach them how to communicate better and how to work toward a successful co-parenting relationship.
Under Family Code section 3190, the court can make an order requiring the parties or parents to participate in outpatient counseling for a period of no more than one year. In order to make such an order, the court must find that there is a dispute causing “substantial danger to the best interest of the child” and counseling is in the best interest of the child. In addition, the court must consider any history of domestic violence between the parties within the last five years. Finally, the counseling order pursuant to Section 3190 cannot impose undue financial burden on the parties and the court must allocate counseling or therapy costs between the parties accordingly.
To avoid the parents’ resistance to the counseling order, care must be taken to ensure that the order specifies the source and method of payment, the logistics of the sessions (i.e., who will be responsible for scheduling and transportation to and from the sessions) and the duration and number of the counseling sessions. Further, when there is a history of domestic violence against one parent or against the child, the court can also order the parties to participate in counseling separately or at separate times.
Do you think a counseling order pursuant to Family Code Section 3190 would help resolve your custody issues? Contact our office at 310-212-7109 for more information.