For all of the women and men that have been through the family court system in Ventura County, they can understand how the system instead of protecting children creates even more trauma for them. Once in the court system it will break a person down, put the children in the middle and take the power away from the parents. The system is just that a system and when put into the hands of inexperienced and often over worked mediators, they end up making decisions for children instead of parents making the choice. Avoid Ventura County Court Family Mediators at all cost when children are involved. Instead seek outside mediation to put a plan together for you!
When people go through a divorce if both people are rational then the couple should use an outside mediator not a family law mediator but one that has the children’s best interest at heart. Try at all cost to avoid the system.
When couples are getting a divorce do not go and see a mediator that is a lawyer, they will usually create more of a problem then a solution, wanting to make a client out of the mediation to get into litigation. Very few family law lawyers will have their client’s best interest at heart and most of all the children’s best interest at heart. If a person is found in this position and feels like the lawyer is causing more harm than good, suggest an outside mediator that is not a lawyer. At all cost especially if children are involved both parents should take a co-parenting class to avoid having the children get stuck in the middle. It is worth the money and if both parents can take it, and follow the guide lines, it really does put the children’s needs first, unlike the mediators at the court house.
The worst case scenario is the couple where one parent is bitter and many times has a mental illness. These are the cases where the children become thrown in the middle, and torn to pieces, because there is no negotiation with another human being that has bad intentions and no ability to reason or co-parent. The court mediators are also not well trained to work with these types of clients and often will cause more harm than good, trying to just get rid of the case.
Usually these cases will have police interaction involved, child protective service reports and in the end especially in California they will do no good but put the children through hell. Unfortunately the system is so broken that even the judges often times don’t want to deal with the cases and postpone or dismiss them. For every change in the children’s routine if one parent will not co-parent or be reasonable then the other parent has to go back to court each and every time with little to no resolution. If you have a lawyer it is costly and if you do it on your own it is extremely time consuming.
Case in point: Amy is a mediator for the Ventura County court system, unfortunately she already has a bad reputation for just giving 50/50 or writing her recommendations where it places children in the middle of a situation to appease the parents instead of protecting the children. Some of this is the court system itself and its rules but also her perception based on personal opinion rather than supporting evidence of what the facts are. In a personal case where two children were on an IEP and a 504 plan with both children having ADHD and two parents that absolutely do not communicate or can make a single decision together she divides the school and gives the father last say on that and gives the mother last say on medication. The father in this case had messed with the children medication so many times that at one point the mother was given final say. The final say on school given to the father was not based on any concert evidence but her own opinion, which if anyone has any experience with children that have ADHD and take medication the school and the doctor have to be motored every three months and when you have two parents that do not communicate, there is no possible way to help the child succeed, each and every decision is met with no decision and going back to court is the only way to resolve it. She also ordered therapeutic visits for the father because the children did not want to see him yet did not ask for the information from the therapist in writing. She then writes her report having the children living with mother in a different school district but giving the father the last say on where the kids should attend school, knowing that this will be an issue. The worst part is the child gets dragged into the situation over and over again. The children essentially become a ward of the system. When presented with overwhelming facts that one parent is irrational and the children really do not feel safe with that parent, the mediator still gives 50/50. If a parent does not seek court ordered therapy then the other parent has to bring them back to court and point out there is no recourse to do anything about it. In this case it was a blatant violation of the court order yet there was still no stipulation placed on the parent that does not follow the orders. This again leaves the children to be placed in the middle of a never ending battle, so think twice before entering the court system. If you do get caught in it you can request a change in mediator if you are unlucky enough to get her.
If you find yourself in this situation, or are thinking of using the Ventura County Court mediator, the children will suffer, because the system is broken.
The other issues with the Ventura County Court system is that they don’t take the children’s age into account and many times will use the 50/50 approach where even a young child at a developmental stage who may have sent most of the time being with one parent is now forced to be apart from that parent. This can create trauma for a children and that can be avoided if not involved in the court system. Many of these kids are so traumatized that they fail out of school or end up with deep emotional trauma. Many times especially if the children have been primary raise by their mother and then suddenly are forced to spend an entire week apart from her or 5 days it can fell like abandonment. The other problem with the court system when dealing with a parent that is mentally ill is that often times a child may have ADHD or other issues as well and the changing in routine can affect them negatively…Some of the mediators in the Ventura County Court system do not take this into account and the children can be greatly affected by the uncertainty of who is going to pick them up and where they are going to sleep, along with dealing with school and having to adapt to uncertain situations. When court mediators write out an order the order is usually written in a way that will not make sense to the public school system or any other governing body such as police or social security, even child support. If a person is not represented by a lawyer then the documentation is left up to the judge who often times will not make changes to the mediator’s recommendations that are never clearly understood by the general public…The purpose of this is so that the parents can have some flexibility to co parent. Unfortunately in a situation where one person is mentally ill and has no ability to do co-parenting and only relied on the documents it can be a legal nightmare for the children.
Case in point: the mediator may suggest a pick up and drop off place for the parents to exchange the children, if one parent is not able to get to the drop off place or pick up place and the other parent is non cooperative and will only go to any other place, then the kids are basically left with the burden of getting caught in the middle. When this is presented to the judge they want the parent to figure it out themselves but, if one parent has a mental illness then we are not dealing with rational people. The judge is too busy to deal with a small issue like that but for the children they are the ones being caught in the middle. For anyone who has experienced this they would understand the frustration of the situation.
Bottom line is that with budget cuts and more laws that are being placed on Ventura County mediators, the system unless there is extreme children abuse, which that is even hard to report will most likely still suggest a 50/50 split…..
Understanding that a family lawyer is not your friend in the system, is important, most are out to make money and will prolong a court case instead of resolving it. The best advice for a person who has to hire a family law attorney is to do it on a limited problem and pay the retainer, or suggest payments. When in court do not allow them to go behind chambers and talk to the judge, there is no way to know what is said and for the most parent they will just set another motion to go back to court costing you more money, if this does happen and it is the other person who is asking to postpone, make sure to tell your lawyer that you want sanctions, meaning to have the other party pay the attorney’s fee. The other important piece of advice is don’t allow the lawyer to get you emotional over the case this will only sucker you in and create more problems. If a family lawyer asks to attach their fee to your property or any assets you have then look for a new lawyer, because they will bankrupt you! If you cannot afford an attorney then go to self-help and take the time to let them help you.
If you have been through the Ventura County Court system and have your own horror story to share please feel free to do so, perhaps if it did not save your own children then perhaps it may help another family from being destroyed.