Skip to main content
Skip to main content.

Family Court Services

Overview

The mission of Family Court Services is to serve the families of Kern County with the development of the best possible solution for difficult family transitions in a timely, professional, and ethical manner.

Provide us with your name, telephone number and case number.

  • It is the responsibility of the parties to contact Family Court Services on the day of mediation.
  • The mediation session is private and confidential. Attorneys and new spouses/partners are NOT permitted to attend mediation.
  • The use of an audio or visual recording device of any type is NOT allowed during mediation.

Family Court Services Information

Consistent with the spirit of California law, Family Court Services provides the residents of Kern County with an array of services for families involved in Family Court and Probate Court matters.

Family Court Mediation & Investigation

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, dependency mediations will be held via telephone until further notice.

Each juvenile court is encouraged to develop a dependency mediation program to provide a problem-solving forum for all interested persons to develop a plan in the best interest of the child, emphasizing the strengthening and preservation of the family. The Legislature finds that mediation of these matters assists the court in resolving conflict, and helps the court to intervene in a constructive manner in those cases where the court’s intervention is necessary. The dependency mediation program has been established in the juvenile court. The judge may order that a matter be set for a confidential mediation to develop a plan in the best interest of the child, utilizing resources within the family first and within the community if required.

In some cases, the court may appoint a Family Court Services Investigator to evaluate a family and make recommendations about visitation and custody. The goal of a child custody evaluation is to provide the Court and the parties with objective information and recommendations about a family to assist the Court in issuing orders in highly contested custody disputes. The investigator conducting the child custody evaluation is a neutral mental health professional and is knowledgeable in the areas of how divorce affects children. There are two types of evaluations:

  • Fully Custody Evaluation This is a comprehensive examination of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child. The examination involves multiple interviews with the family, extensive review of collateral information and results in a written report.
  • Partial Custody Evaluation This is an examination of the health, safety, and best interest of the child that is limited by the court order in either time or scope.

When the Court orders a child custody evaluation, the parties have ten business days to complete a child custody questionnaire and submit it to Family Court Services:
Family Court Services
1215 Truxtun Ave., Room 301
Bakersfield, CA 93301

Family Court Services investigates matters for Freedom from Parental Custody and Control of a child. After a petition has been filed with the court, Family Court orders an investigation as to these matters. An investigator will conduct an independent review of the case, interview the parties, which includes the minors. The investigator assesses whether the criteria to terminate the parental rights has been met, and whether it is in the best interest of the minor for the petition to be granted. A report is completed with a recommendation to the Court.

FCS Abandonment Questionnaire

Stepparents who wish to adopt a child of the stepparent’s spouse may for that purpose file a petition with the Family Law Department. A Family Court Services investigator will conduct an independent review of the case, interview the parties, which includes the minors, and complete a report with a recommendation to the Court as to the best interest of the minor.

FCS Stepparent Questionnaire

California law requires a person under the age of 18 to obtain consent from at least one parent or guardian and permission in the form of a court order. The Court has the discretion to grant permission for a minor to marry or establish a domestic partnership. A Family Court Services investigator will interview the parties and may recommend the parties participate in premarital counseling. The investigator will file a report with Family Court.

Minor Marriages Questionnaire

Probate Court Investigation

The Probate judge appoints Family Court Services to conduct investigations of proposed guardians, who are relatives of children whose parents are otherwise unable to meet the best interest of the children pursuant to Probate Code § 1513(a).

Beginning January 2, 2020, Family Court Services has been conducting background checks in relative guardianship cases for all petitioners and other adults residing in the home. A guardianship questionnaire must be completed and submitted to Family Court Services. When submitting the questionnaires, petitioners can email them directly.

As part of the relative guardianship investigations, Family Court Services is responsible for Special Immigration Juvenile Findings (SIJF) investigations pursuant to Probate Code § 1513(a) for individuals ages 18 to 21. A review of the petitioner and all the adults living in the home are subject to a background check in these investigations. Petitioners for SIJF must complete and submit a guardianship questionnaire to Family Court Services. When submitting the questionnaires, petitioners can email them directly.

The Probate Court appoints a Court Investigator to conduct an investigation for limited and general conservatorship proceedings of the person and the estate.

What is conservatorship?

A conservatorship is a court proceeding in which a judge appoints a family member, friend or other responsible person (conservator) to take care of a dependent adult (conservatee) who cannot care of himself/herself and/or their finances.
There are two types of conservatorships, person and estate. Conservatorship of the Person:
In these situations, the conservator is responsible for ensuring the conservatee has proper food, clothing, shelter, and health care. Depending on the conservatee’s ability to understand and make decision, the conservator may need to make important medical choices for him or her. Conservatorship of the Estate:
The conservator handles the conservatee’s financial matters. These responsibilities include the conservatee’s finances, protecting income and property, paying bills, making investments, preparing and filing taxes on behalf of the conservatee. The conservator is also required to make regular reports of financial account to the courts and other interested parties.

General Conservatorship v. Limited Conservatorship

General Conservatorships:
Are for elderly people, but can also be for younger people who have been seriously impaired, for example a traumatic brain injury as result of a motor vehicle accident. Limited Conservatorships: Are for adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully provide basic needs of food shelter and clothing or their finances. Conservatees in Limited Conservatorships do not need the higher level of care that conservatees in General Conservatorships need. The responsibility of the limited conservator is to help the limited conservatee develop maximum self-reliance and independence.

What is a temporary conservatorship?

A temporary conservatorship may be set up when a person needs immediate help. A judge may appoint a temporary conservator to take care of the conservatee’s immediate needs until a permanent conservator can be appointed. A temporary conservator may be a conservator of the person, conservator of the estate, or both. He or she arranges for temporary care, protection, and support of the conservatee and protects the conservatee’s finances and property from loss or damage until a permanent conservator can be appointed. The authority of the temporary conservator is much more limited than a permanent conservator.

What is a Lanternman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorship?

Lanternman-Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorships are based on the Lanternman-Petris-Short Act of 1969 law named after its sponsors. The LPS conservatorships are created to arrange for certain types of very restrictive living arrangements and extended mental health treatment for people who are unable to provide for their own needs for food, clothing, or shelter as a result of a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism, and who cannot agree to the arrangement of treatment voluntarily. This process must be started by a local government agency, usually a county’s public guardian or public conservator. Therefore, Family Court Services does not cover these conservatorships.

Professional Supervised Visitation Providers

READ BEFORE USING SUPERVISED VISITATION PROVIDER LIST

DISCLAIMER: The providers listed have identified themselves to the Kern County Superior Court as supervised visitation providers in this area. These providers are not affiliated with the court, and each provider is independently responsible for compliance with any and all applicable legal requirements. The court does not endorse, evaluate, supervise, or monitor these programs.

Information about submitting questions, concerns, or complaints

All information must be submitted in writing. Please submit your information via email.

Additions/Changes/Removal from/to Supervised Visitation Provider List

Anyone who wishes to be added to the Supervised Visitation Provider List must complete and comply with the requirements

If you wish to be added, be removed, or to make a change to the Supervised Visitation Provider List, all information must be submitted in writing.

Please submit your information via email.

Only trainings with the Judicial Council of California will be accepted. For information visit: Here.

Professional Supervised Visitation Provider List

The Professional Supervised Visitation Provider List

General Guidelines for Your Parenting Plan:

Unless there are restraining orders that prevent parents from communicating, parents should discuss how they are working to reduce the risk of the children being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. In general, a parent cannot deny the other parent their parenting time based on a subjective belief that the other parent is not protecting the children well enough.

COVID-19 is not a reason to deny parenting time. Parents are considered fit to care for their children and make the day-to-day parenting decisions, unless a court has decided differently. Day-to-day care includes following orders and recommendations by the State of California and Kern County Public Health, such as social distancing and frequent hand-washing.

While schools are closed, parenting time should continue as if the children are attending school in their regular school district. Parents should not treat the school closure as the child’s spring or summer break. It is also not treated as a “weekend” under the parenting plan.

During the exchange of children, parties should follow public health directives for limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This may mean choosing a different location with fewer people or fewer risks of contamination from objects or surfaces. (Example: moving the exchange from inside a store or restaurant to the parking lot)

If the parenting time is supposed to take place in a public place that is now closed, such as a park, the parents should try to agree to a different and safe location. If that is not possible, the parenting time should instead take place by video or telephone.

If a parent is ordered to have supervised visitation with a child, and the supervisor is unavailable due to COVID- 19 related issues, the parents should work together to make sure that a safe visit can happen. For example, the parents could agree to having a different supervisor for the visits, or allow the visit to take place by video or telephone.

If a parent cannot spend time with a child under the existing parenting plan due to COVID-19 related issues, parents should work together to schedule makeup parenting time in a way that ensures the children's safety and wellbeing.

If you need to change the existing parenting plan because you and the other parent cannot agree on needed changes, the Family Court offers hearings and child custody mediation by telephone or video. If you have evidence that there is an immediate threat to a child’s health or safety, you may ask the court for emergency orders.

Our first responders (Sheriff, police, fire, EMTs) are providing much needed support for issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and must be available for true emergencies. So please do not call first responders regarding enforcement of child custody orders unless an immediate and significant safety issue is present.

Mediation

Family Court Services provides the residents of Kern County with an array of assistance for individuals involved in Family Court and Probate Court. The department delivers the following court ordered services: confidential child custody mediations, juvenile court dependency mediations, family court investigations (termination of parental rights and stepparent adoption investigations), child custody evaluations, and probate court investigations (conservatorship and relative guardianship investigations).

Mediation Appointments

If you have a mediation appointment, call the office at (661)868-4530 or send an email on the day and time of your appointment to let us know you are available for mediation. Provide us with your name, telephone number and case number. Please read and complete the following forms. Once they are completed, you may email them along with the confirmation of your appointment. This will help expedite your mediation appointment.
Mediation Informed Consent
Mediation Questionnaire

Child Custody Mediation

Family Court mediation is a confidential session which involves the discussion between the parents and a neutral mental health professional for the development of an effective co-parenting plan for their children. Mediation gives parents the opportunity to reach an agreement for child custody and visitation that is in the best interest of their children. Mediation is most effective when the parents complete the Children First Online Program. This program allows parents to acknowledge the importance of focusing on sharing their parental responsibilities in a way that is most beneficial for their children. It is required that both parents complete this program prior to attending their mediation session. Failure to complete the program may delay the mediation process. Children First Online Program

Orientation to Family Law Mediation

The program is available from the California Court website.

The court believes the information provided in this program will help you make better decisions regarding your children and will help you understand the family law process.

Parent Manual

Parent Manual - Spanish

Family Law Mediation Videos

Resource Directory

Mediation FAQs

Mediation is mandatory. When there is a child custody dispute, the parents must attend mediation. The Family Code requires that parents attempt to resolve any issues through mediation prior to any court hearing.

Mediation in Kern County is confidential. When the parents and the mediator discuss any child custody concerns or the development of a co-parenting plan, mediators do not report to anyone including the court or judges except under certain circumstances. Mediators do inform the court if:

  • A parent does not appear for mediation
  • Parents cannot reach an agreement
  • Recommend that Minors Counsel be appointed
  • Recommend a Child Custody Investigation

The request to appoint Minors Counsel or a child custody investigation are only recommendations. Judges may or may not grant these requests made by the mediator.

Mediators are mental health professionals, which means they are mandated to report any suspected child abuse to the Department of Human Services Child Protective Services. Mediators are also required to report if there is a danger to self or others.

After mediation sessions are complete, mediators do not make any other recommendations to the court regarding custody and visitation other than the ones previously mentioned.

  • Purpose of Mediation:

    The purpose of mediation is to offer a neutral place for parents to plan their children’s care and shared parental responsibilities. The parents are given the opportunity to resolve any disputes pertaining to Legal and Physical Custody before the court makes any order. Mediation sessions may last minutes or hours.

  • Developing a Child Custody Plan:

    The mediator will assist the parents in the development of a written co-parenting plan, which includes specific information on how the parents will make decisions about time share, exchanges of the child, communication between the parents about the child, health, education, extracurricular activities, etc. These co-parenting plans are also known as agreements. An agreement is a detailed description of how the children will spend their time with each parent and how the parents will make important decisions about the children’s health, safety, and welfare.The mediator will draft an agreement that is acceptable to both parents.Mediators can decline to draft an agreement when they believe it is not in the best interest of the children. Once an agreement between the parents is established, the agreement is sent to the judicial officer to become a court order.

  • Interviews with Children:

    Children who are 8 years of age or older are asked to be present during mediation so the mediator may interview them, separately from the parents. Mediators are trained to interview children in order to assist parents in developing parenting plans. Children are never asked to make a decision with whom they want to live. Children are not able to make these choices, but they can discuss their concerns with the mediators. The communication between the children and the mediator is confidential. The mediator will not share with the parents any information discussed with the children unless the children give permission to disclose their concerns with the parents.

  • Violence Between Parents:

    The law allows for separate mediation when there are allegations of domestic violence or a restraining order in place. Alleged victims are allowed to have a support person with them during mediation. At the time of the mediation, the alleged victim will complete a questionnaire regarding their request for separate mediation. Mediators may initiate separate sessions between the parents, if there is an appearance of intimidation whether there are allegations of domestic violence or not.

  • If No Agreement is Reached:

    Although the law requires that parents participate in the mediation process, there is no requirement that they reach an agreement. The mediator will notify the court that the parents participated in mediation but they were not able to establish an agreement. The mediator will not make any recommendations to the court regarding custody and visitation when the parents do not reach an agreement. The judicial officer will meet with the parents for a court hearing.

Family Court Services mediators are court employees. Mediators are required to have a Master’s Degree in a behavioral health field: Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapist, Professional Counseling, or Psychology with at least two years paid post-masters experience. Many mediators hold a license and others are associates in clinical social work or marriage, family, and child counseling, professional counseling, or psychology. Several of the mediators speak Spanish. Mediators are required to have specialized training in order to mediate and investigate matters related to child custody. They do not provide any legal advice, and they remain neutral throughout the mediation session.Information about standards for mediators can be located at California Rules of Court.

Was this helpful?