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Del Norte County Courthouse
Family Law Facilitator
Facilitator: Martha McQuarrie
Phone: (707) 465-8634
Walk-in hours available Tuesday through Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm (except the noon hour for lunch).
Mediator: Julie Coney
Phone: (707) 464-8115 ext 131
Available via phone only
Family Law Facilitator
- What is a Family Law Facilitator and what types of services are provided?
Del Norte County's Family Law Facilitator is a neutral family law attorney who does not represent either parent/party and who is available to help all parents/parties who are not represented by an attorney and who have questions about family support matters including but not limited to paternity, child support, spousal support, and medical support orders and/or paperwork.
The Family Law Facilitator does not provide legal representation and cannot give advice or strategy on your case. The Facilitator is available to see one or both the parents/parties one or numerous times and individually or together. No attorney-client relationship is created between the Facilitator and a person using the Family Law Facilitator's services. There is no confidentiality created between the Facilitator and a person using those services.
The types of assistance provided are in the form of answering your legal questions about procedure and laws as well as helping you identify the paperwork you will be filing in your family law action. You will be completing forms with the assistance of the Family Law Facilitator or staff. You will be given instructions on how to prepare your completed paperwork for filing with the Court and service on the other party.
Unrepresented family law litigants are given priority.
If you have any questions about the scope of services the Family Law Facilitator offers, do not hesitate to ask.
- Where is the office of the Family Law Facilitator?
The office of the Family Law Facilitator is in the Traffic Court building located at the corner of Fifth and "G" Street, Crescent City, CA. The telephone number is (707)465-1896 and the fax number is (707)465-3058.
- How much do the services of the Family Law Facilitator cost?
The services of the Facilitator or the staff are free.
- What is Mediation?
Mediation is a free service and is court ordered by law when parents (and sometimes other parties in a child's life) file papers regarding custody and visitation and they disagree with each other. This can happen when parents separate, divorce, have never married but need to establish paternity, file restraining orders, when someone files for guardianship of a child, or in other numerous situations involving children and those who love them.
- What happens in Mediation
Usually both parties meet with the mediator together, however if you have restraining orders the person filing the restraining orders has the right to be seen separately, at a different time from the other person. Neither person will be told of the date and time of each person's appointment with the mediator. The person filing the restraining order may bring a support person with them to mediation.
The issues discussed in mediation are whether legal and physical custody will be shared or will be with one parent or the other, parenting time with each parent, how the children will spend time with each parent on holidays and birthdays and any special clauses that are needed to address safety, health, vacation, daycare or any other issues particular to a specific case.
If you reach an agreement in mediation the Family Court Services office will type the agreement for you. You will both sign it and if you have attorneys, your attorneys will sign it. We will then send it to the judge to sign. When the judge signs it, it becomes a court order that is legal and binding. Any violation of it can be brought to court for contempt of court and, if proven, can result in a fine or time in jail.
- What if you do not reach an agreement in Mediation?
If the parents or other appropriate parties cannot reach an agreement, then they will be ordered to appear before the judge. Our court is a non-recommending court. The mediator is neutral and does not make recommendations to the judge about custody and parenting time but can make recommendations that an evaluation be done by a court-appointed evaluator, or that an attorney be appointed for the children in the case, or that restraining orders be ordered in the case. If an evaluation is ordered or an attorney is appointed for your children you may be ordered to pay for these services.
- What is an evaluator?
An evaluator is a licensed mental health professional contracted with by the court to evaluate all the issues or just specific issues in a case so the judge has as much information as possible to make an informed decision about what is in the best interests of your child/ren. The mediator cannot make recommendations to the court about your case but the evaluator can. Sometimes the judge sends you back to mediation with the evaluator's report and recommendations to try to come to an agreement and avoid a court hearing.
- What does an attorney appointed for the child/ren do?
An attorney appointed for the child/ren represents them by giving them a voice in court when the judge feels they need representation of their own. The child's attorney may interview people involved with the child/ren, have access to their school, medical, mental health and dental records and have reasonable access to the child/ren and represent their best interests to the court.
If the mediator suspects any kind of child abuse, it is the law that the mediator shall report it. Anyone who knowingly submits a false report of abuse is committing a crime.