Child Custody Recommending Counselor

MERCED SUPERIOR COURT   Merced, CA   Full-time     Social Service
Posted on January 22, 2023
Apply Now


Under general direction, the Court Investigator/Child Custody Recommending Counselor performs independent work, conducts investigations for probate conservatorships, guardianships and cases involving child custody disputes.  Also attends hearings as necessary; consults with judicial officers, attorneys, and parties involved in assigned cases; prepares reports and recommendations for the court.  
This classification provides a variety of services to the Court including: mediation, child custody recommending counseling and other investigator roles. 


The following duties are normal for this position.  The omission of specific statements of the duties does not exclude them from the classification if the work is similar, related or a logical assignment for this classification.  Other duties may be required and assigned.  

  1. Receives notification of petitions for new guardianships and conservatorships and conducts investigations to determine if guardianships and conservatorships are necessary 
  2. Conducts investigations in guardianship and conservatorship matters by gathering, assessing and evaluating information regarding living and housing arrangements, care plans, and other information concerning the personal health and safety of proposed wards and conservatees through interviews, home visits and other sanctioned investigative methods; checks references and reviews criminal history and child protective services information where appropriate
  3. Interviews proposed wards and conservatees in all petitions filed to establish guardianships or conservatorships; evaluates personal, educational, and social needs; investigates and determines facts and conditions surrounding controversies including issues of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse or neglect and substance abuse.
  4. Within time frames that meet Court and statutory requirements, prepares reports to the Court containing all required and requesting information
  5. Conducts periodic review of ongoing probate conservatorship cases to determine if the conservator is acting in the best interest of the conservatees; determines if the conservatee requires continuous conservatorship or desires a change of conservators; attempts to resolve deficiencies in care of placement and documents facts and findings
  6. Interviews parents, children, and collateral parties (relatives, friends, attorneys, medical and psychiatric staff, various county departments, State agencies, and other concerned parties)
  7. Assists parties in probate and conservatorship cases, explaining legal rights and scope of services; informs parties of laws, regulations and procedures of the court
  8. Serves as a Counselor in Child Custody Recommending Counseling sessions and makes recommendations to the Court as to custody of or visitation with the child
  9. Serves as Mediator in mediation cases and shall use his or her best efforts to effect a settlement of the custody or visitation dispute that is in the best interest of the child
  10. Reviews, evaluates and writes a report, rationale and recommendation regarding petitions related to all assigned cases within the establish time frames
  11. Maintains case records of contacts including collateral contacts and compiles statistics as directed 
  12. Effectively manages a caseload and provides required reports and agreements to the Court in a timely manner; attends hearings and testifies in Court as required
  13. Interviews, makes recommendations and submits reports for pre-age marriages, stepparent adoptions and/or freedom from parental custody and control proceedings (valid licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist or Licensed Clinical Social Workers required)
  14. Acts as liaison between the court and relevant agencies related to investigations; provides information and resources regarding divorce related matters to the public, attorneys, and agencies who seek assistance or counsel as directed
  15. Attends hearings and testifies in Court as required
  16. Cooperates with other government agencies, such as Child Protective Services, law enforcement agencies, the Public Defender's office and the District Attorney's office on a regular basis when working on cases 
  17. Conducts education classes for the public dealing with the issues of divorce, separation, child custody, visitation and child development as directed
  18. Travels off-site using personal vehicle or arranged transportation to various locations in the county on a regular basis while conducting investigations; in rare occasions some out-of-state travel may be necessary
  19. Maintains current knowledge in relevant subject matter, including relevant clinical and mediation literature, recommends changes in policy or rules for compliance; attends staff and other work-related meetings, workshops, seminars, and other continuing education opportunities, as directed 
  20. Other duties as assigned

Supervisory Duties:
May assign work and provide guidance to contracted investigator(s) and child recommending counselor(s) as directed

Eight (8) hours per day as directed, with overtime per the Court's needs.


Graduation from an accredited college or university with a Master's Degree or equivalent in social work, psychology, marriage, family and child counseling or related behavioral science substantially related to marriage and interpersonal relationships
Two (2) years of experience in family and divorce counseling or psychotherapy, or both, preferably in a setting related to the areas of responsibility of the family conciliation court and with the ethnic population to be served

Necessary Employment Standards
Knowledge of:

  • Interviewing, investigation, mediation and negotiation methods, techniques and procedures
  • California court system including the statutes and procedures used in family law, juvenile and probate court
  • Thorough knowledge of Probate law and legislation
  • Issues of child abuse or abandonment, elder abuse, drugs and alcohol
  • Common medical and psychiatric terminology and conditions
  • Individual and family counseling techniques
  • Public and private community resources and referral agencies
  • Adult psychopathology and the psychology of families
  • Child development, child abuse, clinical issues relating to children, the effects of divorce on children, the effects of domestic violence on children, and child custody research sufficient to assess the mental health needs of children
  • Modern office methods and technology including the use of a personal computer and related software such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, case management systems, and scheduling programs
  • Written and oral communication standards, including correct usage of grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Basic accounting and auditing practices
  • Organizational and administrative methods and procedures of the Court is desired

Skill/Ability to:

  • Gather and analyze data, evaluate facts and evidence, interpret directions, procedures and regulations, and develop appropriate comprehensive and factual responses
  • Understand legal/judicial procedures, laws and local rules, legal terminology, documents and procedures related to case evaluation and processing
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with all levels of Court staff, judicial partners, elective and appointive bodies and members of the general public; work effectively with and assist individuals of various ages and diverse cultural backgrounds; deal tactfully and courteously with all
  • Work independently and prioritize work with excellent organization skills
  • Work well under pressure, meeting multiple and sometimes conflicting deadlines. Must be available to work weekends and overtime as directed
  • Communicate effectively, both written and oral to and/or with members of the public, attorneys, vendors, co-workers, supervisors, managers, and judicial officers
  • Maintain confidential information in accordance with legal standards and/or other regulations
  • Train, oversee and evaluate the performance of staff including contracted investigators
  • Follow Court Rules and Regulations/Personnel Policies, Safety Procedures, Court Code of Ethics and Court Harassment Prevention Policy.
  • Demonstrate cooperative behavior with co-workers and management.
  • Maintain a professional appearance and demeanor as defined in the Court Code of Ethics.
  • Successfully complete fingerprinting and criminal record check with the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation

A valid class C California driver's license may be required.  The requirement will be reviewed on a position basis in accordance with ADA regulations.

Desirable License or Certificate:
Possession of a valid Licensed Clinical Social Worker or Marriage, Family and Child Counselor license as issued by the State of California.


Performance Aptitudes
Data Utilization:  Requires the ability to review, classify, categorize, prioritize, and/or analyze data.  Includes exercising discretion in determining data classification, and in referencing such analysis to established standards for the purpose of recognizing actual or probable interactive effects and relationships. 
Human Interaction:  Requires the ability to apply principles of persuasion and/or influence over others in coordinating activities of a project, program, or designated area of responsibility.
Equipment, Machinery, Tools, and Materials Utilization:  Requires the ability to operate, maneuver, and/or control the actions of equipment, machinery, tools, and/or materials used in performing essential functions.
Verbal Aptitude:  Requires the ability to utilize a wide variety of reference, descriptive, and/or advisory data, and information.
Mathematical Aptitude:  Requires the ability to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; the ability to calculate decimals and percentages; the ability to utilize principles of fractions; and the ability to interpret graphs.
Functional Reasoning:  Requires the ability to apply principles of influence systems, such as motivation, incentive, and leadership, and to exercise independent judgment to apply facts and principles for developing approaches and techniques to resolve problems.
Situational Reasoning:  Requires the ability to exercise judgment, decisiveness, and creativity in situations involving the evaluation of information against sensory, judgmental, or subjective criteria, as opposed to that which is clearly measurable or verifiable.
Physical Ability

  • Strength, dexterity, coordination, and vision to use a keyboard, computer monitor, and other office equipment on a daily basis and for extended periods of time
  • Fine finger manipulations, dexterity, and coordination to handle files and single pieces of paper
  • Forceful and repetitive gripping, grasping, and pinching
  • Occasional lifting and carrying of objects weighing up to 20 lbs.
  • Frequent reaching for items on shelves, above, at, and below desk/shoulder level
  • Exert up to 20 lbs. of force occasionally, and/or up to 10 lbs. of force frequently, and/or negligible amount of force constantly to move, torque, twist, push, and pull objects
  • Frequently sit for extended periods; frequently stand for extended periods; and frequently walk, move, bend, stoop, lift, and stretch
  • Able to move to different locations such as, but not limited to: courtrooms, clerk's office, various departments, other court facilities, and desk assignments based on the operational needs of the Court
  • Able to traverse inside and outside over uneven ground and pavement
  • Perform repetitive writing, typing, copying
  • Employees are regularly required to verbally communicate both in person and by telephone
  • Corrected hearing and vision to normal range

Sensory Requirements: Some tasks require the ability to perceive and discriminate colors or shades of colors, sounds, and visual cues or signals.  Some tasks require the ability to communicate orally.
Environmental Factors: Essential functions are regularly performed without exposure to adverse environmental conditions.

BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS:  Convictions, depending on the type, number and date, may be disqualifying.  Court employees shall be subject to a modified background investigation and fingerprinting.  False statements or omission of facts regarding background or employment history may result in disqualification or dismissal.