Child Custody

California Child Custody Counsel

In some divorce and parentage cases in California, child custody and visitation issues are straightforward and handled amicably by agreement or through divorce mediation. In other, more complex cases, children are the collateral damage of the parties’ breakup.

When parents cannot agree, child custody issues must be reviewed in court so the court can determine what is in the child’s best interest. California child custody cases may also review parent relocation requests, children’s medical concerns, educational decisions, and more, in addition to setting legal and physical custody.

Our Orange County visitation and child custody lawyers understand that your children are your number one priority. We want to work with you to determine what plan of action will be best for your family and how to efficiently meet your objectives. If you need child custody and visitation orders or have questions about what the future might hold for your children, please contact the skilled Orange County child custody lawyers at Johnson Attorneys Group.

Understanding California Child Custody and Visitation Cases

When parents break up or divorce, it can cause tremendous pain and anguish for the whole family. If parents cannot agree or they become combative, the court may have to step in and make a ruling. Family law judicial officers always prioritize the health and safety of the children.

California wants to keep both parents involved in a child’s life whenever possible. Nevertheless, that is only if the child’s best interest is to spend time with both parents. At times parents may have equal time with their child. In other cases, having any relationship with their child may require one parent to have professionally supervised visitation to ensure the child’s safety while maintaining contact. In cases where a non-custodial parent is abusive, irresponsible or a threat to the child in any way, visitation rights may be revoked. Drug or alcohol abuse, physical or verbal abuse, could be considered a reason for revoking visitation as well.

California Child Custody Law: Legal Custody and Physical Custody

If parentage has been established by Judgment or marriage, child custody needs to be assigned when the parents separate. There are two types of custody in California: legal and physical.

Legal custody gives a parent the right to make health, welfare, and educational decisions for a minor child. Legal custody can be sole or joint. By way of example, a legal custodian can decide whether or not to move a child from public to private school. As sole legal custodian, a parent does not need to consult anyone else when making a decision. As a joint legal custodian, both parties must consent to the change. When joint legal custodians cannot reach a decision on a given issue, they must go to court.

Physical custody relates to which parent the child resides with. Physical custody can be sole or joint. A sole physical custodian is the child’s primary caregiver; the other parent is allotted visitation time by agreement or court order. Joint physical custodians both spend meaningful periods of time with the child and have overnight visits on a regular basis.

Parents who share custody and visitation time need a parenting plan for their children. A parenting plan can relate to making legal decisions for the child in addition to the child’s visitation. Thorough parenting plans address the frequency of visits, pickup and return times, and holiday visitation. Parents can reach an agreement on the terms and easily enter the agreement as a Stipulation and Order. Alternatively, when parents cannot agree on a schedule, Family Court Services mediators and Judges will have to make this decision on their behalf.

Parenting plans are usually straightforward with parents who work well as co-parents. In high-conflict custody cases, having a well-written order is crucial to keep the peace. For high-conflict parents, in-person exchanges should be kept to a minimum and the language can leave little room for ambiguity. Misunderstandings with high-conflict parents may lead to emergency custody hearings or visits with law enforcement.

Experienced Orange County child custody lawyers know how to avoid common pitfalls in high-conflict cases. Our family law attorneys understand these complexities and can help devise a suitable arrangement for both spouses.

Child Custody Factors

In a custody matter, the court will focus on several factors to determine what is in a child’s best interest:

  • The age of the child;
  • The current custody and visitation schedule (“status quo”);
  • Health issues;
  • Safety and location of the parent’s home;
  • Emotional bond between child and parent;
  • Connections the child has made to their home, school, and community;
  • Whether one parent disparages the other in front of the child;
  • Parent’s work and travel schedule;
  • Parent’s history of domestic, drug, or alcohol abuse; and
  • Prior involvement with Child Protective Services (CPS).

One thing the courts will not do is lean toward custody of one parent or the other based solely on the fact that they are a man or a woman. The non-custodial parent will be granted visitation rights based on the circumstances presented to the court. The frequency of visits will depend on the factors listed above.

Contact the Child Custody Lawyers at Johnson Attorneys Group in Orange County

If you have questions about your child custody case, contact Johnson Attorneys Group. Located in Newport Beach and serving people all across Orange County, our caring and competent family law attorneys treat all our clients with the utmost professionalism. We will put you and your children’s best interests first. Call (949) 942-8784 to request a private consultation with a child custody lawyer. We can also resolve any other family law issues related to visitation, parentage, child support, high-net-worth divorce, and more.

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