HOW FAMILY COURT SERVICES AND THE FAMILY COURT WORKS
1. Responsibility for making official orders about your parenting arrangements rests with
the court. No one but a judge can order any child custody or visitation arrangement.
Mediators in Santa Clara County Superior Court, who perform mediations at Family
Court Services, cannot make recommendations about your case without the permission
of both parents. If a mediator performs an Emergency Screening, an Assessment or an
Evaluation, they are responsible to make recommendations of what they think would be
best for your children, but they do not make a court order or a decision. The judge is
the only person authorized to order a child custody or visitation arrangement.
2. Family Court Services cannot reverse or change a court-ordered parenting plan. Only
the judge can change the court order. If you are concerned about the custody or
visitation orders that were made by a judge, you must make your appeal directly to the
court for a review of the case. Your attorney or staff of the Family Court Clinic can tell
you how to appeal a court decision.
3. A complaint about how you were treated in Family Court Services or about the
procedures used can be addressed directly by the Family Court Services office.
4. Submitting a complaint through the use of the attached form is not an appeal for a
review or reversal of court orders that have been made in your case. An appeal is a
legal process over which Family Court Services has no control. Use of this form is,
however, the proper way to express your grievances about the way in which Family
Court Services handled your child custody mediation, screening, assessment or
5. To process your written complaint, the director or one of the supervisors will :
• Review your complaint.
• Talk with staff who has been involved with your case.
• Determine whether your complaint is a matter that the Family Court Services can
address or a legal matter only the courts can address.
• Respond in writing to the complaining party and to the attorney or self-
represented person on the other side.
FM-1078 REV 01/01/13 Page 2 of 4