FOCUS, Mediation and Home Studies
The FOCUS program is a court-ordered parent education program specifically for adults appearing before the Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for custody and visitation issues.
The program consists of two sessions that discuss the effects of the parents’ separation on the children, development of communication skills, child development, and the legal definitions of custody, outlining what is meant by the Best Interests of the Child. The goal is to provide the parents with information that will help them to develop a mutually acceptable parenting plan. The FOCUS program is offered free of charge.
Mediation is offered by the Court Service Unit through an Order of Referral by the Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in custody and visitation cases. A mediator acts as a neutral third party to facilitate conversation between parents so that they may arrive at a mutually acceptable parenting plan for their child.
Referral to mediation requires both parties' agreement to participate. Mediators are certified by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mediation is offered free of charge.
Private mediators will mediate a variety of case types including child support and divorce. More information on mediation can be found here.
Home study investigations are conducted by the Court Service Unit only when ordered by the Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in custody and visitation cases. These investigations include research into the family life of the child(ren) in question in order to determine what home placement would be in the best interest of the child.