Video #53 – Contested Divorce PART 3 (Obtaining Temporary Child Custody Orders)

Video Transcript

Welcome to 

Christina:  This is Christina.

Ed:  This is Ed.  Today, we are going to talk about how to obtain temporary child custody orders using the Request For Order FL-300, which we also refer to as an RFO.

Christina:  Before you file your RFO FL-300 seeking temporary child custody orders, you need to first watch the earlier video in the “Getting Educated” series that discusses child custody.  Before you file a motion asking the court to issue a temporary child custody order, you need to understand the various types of child custody orders the court can make.

Christina:  Ed, would you please go over the FL-300 form and explain how to fill out that form if you are seeking temporary child custody orders?

Ed:  Sure.  The FL-300 is a 4-page form.  On page one, you fill out the caption, like any other court form.  Just below the caption, you check the various boxes to indicate the type or types of temporary orders you are requesting.  If you want child custody orders, check both the child custody box and the visitation box.  In line 1, type in the name of the other party and check the box indicating whether the other party is the Petitioner or Respondent.  Leave the rest of page 1 blank.  The court clerk will fill in the information regarding the date, time, and department for the hearing when you file the FL-300 with the court clerk.

Christina:  What about page 2?

Ed:  If you want a temporary child custody order, you are going to check box #2 on page 2.   Check both the “Child Custody” box and the “Visitation (Parenting Time) box just below it.  Then, section 2(a) list the names and dates of birth of the children.  Then, check the “Legal Custody” box and indicate the type of legal custody you want.  Put one of the following words under the line that reads: “Legal Custody to”:  Write  “Petitioner”, “Respondent” or “Joint”.  If you put, “Petitioner”, you are requesting that Petitioner have sole legal custody.  If you put, “Joint”, you are requesting that the court make a joint legal custody order.  Next, check the “Physical Custody” box and indicate the type of physical custody you want.  Again, write, “Petitioner”, “Respondent” or “Joint”. 

Christina:  So, that covers section 2(a) on page 2 of the FL-300.  What about section 2(b)?

Ed:  In section 2(b) of the FL-300, you will describe in more detail exactly what you are requesting regarding a custody order.  You can do this in different ways.  One way is to type up an attachment that describes in detail the exact custody order you want.  The FL-300 indicates you should label the attachment as “Attachment 2(b)”.  You can use the Judicial Council attachment form, MC-025, that is contained in our Court Forms Database.  A second way to describe the custody order you want is to fill out one or more Judicial Council forms that are listed in section #2 of the FL-300.  Those forms are as follows:

FL-305 “Temporary Emergency (Ex –Parte) Orders”.  

FL-311 “ Child Custody And Visitation (Parenting Time) Application Attachment”.  

FL-312 “Request For Child Abduction Prevention Orders”.  

FL-341(C) “Children’s Holiday Schedule.

FL-341(D) “Additional Provisions – Physical Custody Attachment.  

FL-341(E) “Joint Legal Custody Attachment. 

All of these custody forms can be found in our Court Forms Database. 

You don’t need to fill out all of these custody forms.  Review each form.  Decide which form or forms you want to attach to your FL-300, and then fill out just those forms.  If you are going to use these custody forms to describe the custody orders you are requesting, then you need to at least fill out the FL-311.

If you want to use these forms to describe the temporary child custody order you are requesting, go to our database, pull up the forms you want to use, fill them out, print them, and then attach them to your FL-300. 

Christina:  What about section 2(c) on page two of the FL-300?

Ed:  After you have described in detail the child custody orders you want in section 2(b), then explain in box 2c of the FL-300 why the orders you are requesting are in the best interest of the children.   The form does not give you much room for your explanation.   If you can’t fit your explanation in the box provided on the form, type up your explanation on a separate sheet and label that sheet, “Attachment 2c”.  Again, if you need to use an attachment, you can use the Judicial Council form MC-025 that can be found in our Court Forms Database.

Christina:  What about section 2(d)?

Ed:  You only need to fill out section 2(d) if you already have a custody order and you are seeking to modify that order.  We talk about how to modify existing custody orders in later videos.

Christina:  After I fill out section #2 on page 2, what do I do?

Ed:  If you want other types of temporary orders, such as child support or spousal support orders, fill out those sections of the FL-300.  We talk about these other types of temporary orders in the next couple of videos.  After you have filled out the sections of the FL-300 for whatever types of temporary orders you want to request, turn to page 4.  If there is any additional information you want the court to know, put that information in section #10 on page 4, and if there is not enough room, put the information in an attachment.  Then, date and sign the form.  Make two copies and go file the FL-300 with the court clerk.  The clerk will charge you a filing fee.

Christina:  After I fill out and file my FL-300 requesting temporary child custody orders and get my hearing date from the court clerk, is the court going to require my spouse and me to participate in any court process before we show up for the hearing?

Ed:  Yes. When you apply for temporary custody orders, the court is usually going to require you and your spouse to participate in a process to resolve the custody issues before you attend the hearing on your FL-300.  The process you are required to participate in is going to vary dramatically from county to county.

Christina:  What can I expect?

Ed:  Most counties have a department that is called “Family Court Services” or a name similar to Family Court Services.  After you file your FL-300 that contains a request for child custody orders, you will be instructed to call Family Court Services.  Family Court Services may require you and your spouse to participate in a short class or workshop designed to increase the likelihood that you will be able to reach a custody agreement with your spouse and to provide you with useful information on how to co-parent your children.  In some counties, the class or workshop is given at the courthouse or a nearby facility.  In some counties, you can take the class online.  Not all counties require you to take a class or workshop.

The court or Family Court Services will also likely require you and your spouse to participate in “child custody mediation” or “child custody recommending counseling” before the hearing on your RFO.  Sometimes, the court will have you participate in “child custody mediation” or “child custody recommending counseling” on the morning of the hearing, just before the judge hears your case.

Christina:  What does “Child Custody Mediation” involve?

Ed:  “Child custody mediation” involves you and your spouse meeting with a court employee that will act as the custody mediator.  The mediator is typically a mental health professional with specialized training in areas pertaining to children and families.  The mediator is usually skilled and knowledgeable in the areas of conflict resolution, parenting techniques, children’s developmental stages, and issues related to substance abuse and child abuse. 

Normally, you and your spouse meet with the mediator for one meeting.  However, if there is a history of domestic violence, you can usually arrange for separate mediation appointments or one spouse will participate remotely, such as by telephone or by being in another room.  During the mediation session, you and your spouse will both describe the child custody orders you want and explain why your proposed custody orders are in the best interests of the children.  The mediator will put pressure on both parties to reach a child custody agreement.  If you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will either write up the agreement for both of you to sign or send a report to the judge describing your agreement.  When you go to your hearing on the FL-300, the court will make the agreement you reached during mediation the court’s order.  If, during mediation, you and your spouse were unable to reach an agreement, then the judge will decide the custody dispute when you go to the hearing on your FL-300.

Christina:  If my county uses “Child Custody Recommending Counseling” instead of “Child Custody Mediation”, what can I expect?

Ed:  “Child custody recommending counseling” is similar to “child custody mediation”, however, if you are unable to reach a custody agreement with your spouse, then the recommending counselor will issue a report to the court prior to the hearing.  The report will typically briefly summarize each party’s position, indicate the parties were unable to agree, and then make a detailed child custody recommendation to the judge.  You will receive a copy of the report before the hearing, usually a week or a few days before the hearing.  However, sometimes you don’t receive your copy of the report until the very morning of the hearing.  Many judges simply “rubber stamp” the custody recommendations that are set forth in the recommending counselor’s report.  Other judges are willing to listen to the parties before making a temporary custody order and will deviate from the recommendations.  The report issued by the recommending counselor will carry great weight with the judge.  It is usually very difficult to get a judge to issue a custody order that is dramatically different from the recommendations set forth in the report.

Christina:  If I have a lawyer, will my lawyer come with me to the “Child Custody Mediation” or to my “Child Custody Recommending Counseling” meeting?

Ed:  No.  The only people that participate in the mediation process are you, your spouse, and the mediator or recommending counselor.

Christina:  Do children participate in the “Child Custody Mediation” or the “Child Custody Recommending Counseling” meeting?

Ed:  Occasionally, the mediator will ask to interview the children.  Typically, children are interviewed when they are older, such as 12 years old or older.  If the children are interviewed, they will be interviewed separately, at a different time.

Christina:  Do I need to get prepared in advance of my “Child Custody Mediation” or my “Child Custody Recommending Counseling” meeting?

Ed:  It is very important that you be prepared for your “child custody mediation” or “child custody recommending counseling”.  Child custody fights are oftentimes won or lost at these meetings.  Before your meeting, think about what you want to say during the meeting.  Practice what you are going to say.

We have put together a video of tips for parents that are about to participate in child custody mediation or recommending counseling.  We have compiled the information contained in this video over a period of years by listening to clients’ experiences in mediation, as well as listening to mediators and recommending counselors.  We have used the information in our video to coach our own clients.  This “Custody Mediation” video is available for a nominal charge.  If you wish to purchase the “Custody Mediation” video,  go to our home page and visit the video guides database.  You will find the “Custody Mediation” video together with all of our other videos. 

Christina:  Is there anything else I should consider doing before my “Child Custody Mediation” meeting?

Ed:  There are a number of good divorce-related parenting books available that you may want to read.  Visit the “Other Resources” section of our website. 

Christina:  In the next video, we will discuss how to obtain temporary support orders.


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