Understanding CCRC in “Recommending” California Counties

It is imperative that a parent understand the goal of Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC), before taking part in it. California mandates that parents attend CCRC prior to the court making any orders when either parent seeks custody of their child.

In many counties, the CCRC is labeled “recommending” counseling. This means that the parents attend, meet with the CCRC counselor, and try to resolve the custody issues. If they cannot, the counselor makes a recommendation to the court about what would be in the best interests of the child. This recommendation is based upon the meeting with the parents, a meeting with the child if the child is of appropriate age, and review of documents from the parents.

If the parents can’t reach an agreement, the counselor has to make the best recommendation possible on a limited amount of information. County-provided CCRC counselors can have as little as two to three hours to meet with parents, review documents, and make a recommendation. Privately-retained CCRC counselors have more time available, provided there are resources to pay for it, but still usually limit time spent on the process to around ten hours.

With this limited amount of time, and such an impactful recommendation to make, parents have to focus the information they provide to a CCRC counselor to the most essential, current, relevant information.

Many parents want to present concerns that have little to no relevance to the present situation. For instance: Heavy drinking that occurred in the past, an act of negligent parenting five years ago, or an argument that got out of hand several years ago. While past domestic violence, substance abuse, and poor parenting is relevant in providing context for the current situation, it is not going to be as impactful on a CCRC counselor as how the child is doing socially and academically and if there have there been recent causes for concern with a parent’s ability to parent.

In fact, focusing heavily on the past without really addressing the present can look to the counselor like a parent unable to let go of the past and unwilling to support a present relationship with the other parent. A CCRC counselor, unfortunately, is not going to have the time to be able to fully understand the history of a family, the dynamics of the parents or the children. Knowing and understanding this limitation can be crucial in determining what incidents are truly relevant to the current custody dispute, and what needs to be tabled to ensure the necessary current concerns are actually addressed.

For more on this topic, read Jenny Bain’s tips on making the most of your mediation session.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Matt Purcell is a Certified Family Law Specialist and shareholder with FORESTER PURCELL STOWELL PC, based in Folsom, California. He can be reached at info@foresterpurcell.com or 916 293 4000. This information is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.

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