Custody Conciliations are scheduled by the Court Administrator's Office upon the filing of a Complaint for Custody, a Petition to Modify Custody, or a Petition for Contempt (see local rule 1915).
Why don't we immediately go before a Judge?
Parents are in the best position to make decisions about their children. When you litigate a custody issue, you relinquish your responsibilities in decision making concerning the parenting plan for your child and turn it over to the Court. Before the Court will take that responsibility, you are given the opportunity through conciliation to reach an agreement.
The Conciliator helps you to make decisions regarding your child. If you reach an agreement, the Conciliator provides a report to the Court and a proposed order containing your agreement so that the Court can enter a consent order.
Once you reach an agreement, you should begin to follow it immediately. Do not delay until you have received a copy of the order.
If you do not reach an agreement, the Conciliator will still issue a report to the Court and an order to schedule a hearing. The Conciliator will recommend an interim order, which will be in effect until a Judge decides your case. The Court almost always enters the interim orders if 1 is recommended by the Conciliator.
The order will be in effect until the Court decides your case or you later reach an agreement for a consent order before going to a hearing.
You cannot bring witnesses to conciliation. The conciliation is not a record hearing. No witnesses are sworn in. No court reporter is present. The purpose of the conciliation is to try to reach an agreement.
Children may only be brought to conciliation with special permission from the conciliator.
First and foremost, you should be prepared to talk about the child's best interests. Your conciliator may also address the schedule during the school year, summer, vacations, sharing holidays, and responsibilities for decision making.