Children are the ones who struggle the most due to a change in the family structure. Without a doubt, divorce has a significant impact on children, especially younger children who may not understand why their family is changing. It's best that the situation is handled as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Our Child Custody Attorneys are familiar with both the emotional and legal issues that can affect the result of a divorce.

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Find A Child Custody Family Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA.

In a divorce or separation, the child custody proceedings are often the most turbulent. As they struggle to adapt to their new lives, many parents may cling more tightly to their children when they leave their spouses. Both parents often wish to keep custody of their children, and the majority do so somehow. You will advocate for what is best for your family if you have an experienced Child Custody Lawyer by your side.

When parents separate or split, it can be excruciatingly painful for the entire family. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement or become combative, the court will be forced to intervene and make a decision. The health and welfare of the children are still a top priority for family law judges.

California encourages all parents to be involved in their children's lives as much as possible. However, this is only true if the child's best interests are served by spending time with both parents. Parents can spend equal amounts of time with their children at times. In other situations, maintaining some interaction with their child can necessitate one parent having medically supervised visitation in order to ensure the child's safety while maintaining contact. Visitation rights can be terminated in situations where a non-custodial parent is violent, negligent, or poses a threat to the child in any way. Drug or alcohol misuse, as well as physical or verbal abuse, may all be grounds for revoking visitation.

Legal and Physical Custody in California Child Custody Law

In California, either parent can have sole custody, or the parents can share custody. The judge makes the final decision on custody and visitation; however, he or she is likely to accept the parenting plan that all parents consent to. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, a judge may make a decision at a court hearing. After the parents have met with a mediator from Family Court Services, the judge will normally make a decision on custody and visits.

When parents divorce, child custody must be assigned if parentage has been formed by judgment or marriage. In California, there are two forms of custody: legal and physical.

A parent with legal custody of a minor child has the authority to make health, welfare, and educational decisions for that child. Sole or joint legal custody is an option. A legal custodian, for example, may determine whether or not to move a child from public to private school. When making a decision, a parent does not need to consult someone else because he or she is the sole legal custodian. Both parties must agree to the move as joint legal custodians. When joint legal custodians can't agree on anything, they have to go to court. This is why it's best to retain the services of a Family Law Attorney.

Parents who share legal custody of their children have the right to make decisions about these aspects of their children's lives, but they are not required to consent on all of them. Either parent has the ability to make a decision on their own. However, in order to prevent complications and a return to court, all parents should connect with one another and work together to make decisions.

The child's physical custody refers to which parent he or she lives with. Physical custody is divided into two categories: sole custody and shared custody. The child's primary caregiver is a single physical custodian; the other parent is granted visitation time by consent or court order. Joint physical custodians spend significant amounts of time with the child and have frequent overnight visits.

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The children do not have to spend precisely half of their time with each parent if they have joint physical custody. Since it is impossible to divide the time evenly, the children usually spend more time with one parent than the other. When one parent has custody of the children for more than half of the time, this parent is known as the "primary custodial parent."

A judge can grant parents joint legal custody but not joint physical custody in some cases. This suggests that both parents share responsibility for important decisions in their children's lives, but the children spend the majority of their time with only one parent. The parent who does not have physical custody of the children normally has visitation rights.

A parenting plan is required for parents who share custody and visitation time with their children. In addition to the child's visitation, a parenting plan may include making legal decisions for the child. The frequency of visits, pickup and return times, and holiday visitation are all included in detailed parenting plans. Parents will quickly come to an understanding of the terms and enter it as a Stipulation and Order. When parents are unable to settle on a timetable, Family Court Services mediators and judges will be forced to make the decision for them.

For parents who work well together as co-parents, parenting strategies are typically straightforward. A well-written order is critical in high-conflict custody situations to preserve peace. In-person exchanges should be held to a minimum for high-conflict parents, and the wording should leave no space for uncertainty. Miscommunications with high-conflict parents can result in emergency custody hearings or official visits.

Factors Affecting Child Custody

In determining what is in a child's best interest in a custody case, the court will consider multiple factors:

  • The youngster's age;
  • Present custody and visiting arrangements (the "status quo");
  • Problems with health;
  • The parent's home's security and location;
  • Relationship between a child and his or her parent on an emotional level;
  • The child's connections to their home, education, and community;
  • Whether one parent makes disparaging remarks about the other in front of the child;
  • Job and travel schedules of parents;
  • Domestic, drug, or alcohol abuse by one or both parents;
  • Child Protective Services presence in the past (CPS).

One thing the courts would not do is favor one parent over the other simply because of their gender. Based on the circumstances raised to the court, the non-custodial parent would be given visitation rights. The number of visits will be determined by the above variables.

A Child's Safety and Well-Being

Courts in California can take into account particular elements that impact a minor's protection and health. A judge, for example, does not grant custody or visitation rights to the father of a minor who was born after the father raped the child's mother. A judge would also be prohibited from granting unsupervised visits or child custody to a parent who has been convicted of murdering the child's second parent in the first degree.

Although these are severe cases, the same could happen if a parent has been convicted of physical and/or sexual abuse of a child. In addition, if a parent has engaged in any type of spouse or child abuse, even if the abuse has not resulted in a conviction, a family court judge can limit child custody or visitation.

Illicit drug use can also make it difficult for a parent to obtain child custody or visitation rights. A judge may require independent corroboration, such as that of a recovery center, to provide evidence and documents in order to demonstrate that criminal substance abuse occurs.

When it comes to a child's protection and well-being, it is critical that all courts treat each case with care; as a result, each case will require different documents from the parents. If you are seeking child custody in the state of California, you should seek the legal advice of an experienced Family Law Attorney. A skilled attorney will assist you in preparing for the hearing and will be able to make the strongest case and supporting facts to give your children the best chance of receiving favorable orders.

The Preference of the Child

In California, family law requires a judge to recognize the needs of a minor who has shown maturity and mental ability when making a decision about his or her custody. While California law does not prescribe an age, the decision of a child who is usually older and more mature will be given greater weight by the presiding judge. In this case, a judge is more inclined to value a 16-year-opinion old's over that of a 6-year-old. Furthermore, although the judge and court may allow this feedback, it is usually not given the same weight as the normal considerations that are often taken into account in a custody and visitation case.

Child Custody Enforcement

Custody orders for children are legally binding. If a child's parent refuses to follow a divorce order, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Child Custody Lawyer who will fight for your behalf and for your children. Taking the necessary measures will help to ensure that parents follow child custody orders and behave responsibly within the confines of the law. Don't put your child's life in jeopardy.

If a parent refuses to obey a court order, a variety of actions can be taken, including:

  • Request that the order is enforced by local law enforcement.
  • The county district attorney's office or the Child Abduction and Recovery Unit should be contacted.
  • In a court, file a "contempt" suit.

These acts can be appropriate in a variety of circumstances. In the end, they are intended to allow parents to follow child custody orders. If you think your child's safety is in jeopardy, it's typically a good idea to talk to a Family Law Attorney about your choices. Since each case is different, it's important to understand how the law applies to all parties involved and whether such acts can do more harm than good. To explore your legal options, you can contact a Child Custody Lawyer as soon as possible.

Keep track of all paperwork and records.

Keeping meticulous records of all court orders, agreements, and transactions will aid you in the event that legal action is required. When the documents are in order, a court order can be issued more quickly, and law enforcement can respond more quickly because they have a better understanding of the situation. Keep copies and records of all transactions you make within and outside of court.

The following are the measures that should be taken to enforce a detention order:

  • Keep a copy of any court orders in a secure location.
  • Ensure the visiting specifics, such as holidays and birthdays, are clearly stated in the orders.
  • If you and the other parent agree to make changes to an existing court order, get a new court order.
  • Any modifications to custody agreements should be recorded.

Filing a Contempt of Court Complaint

You have the right to file a contempt suit against a parent who is violating a court order. This document effectively asks the court to take steps to execute the custody order. If the court determines that the other party intentionally disobeyed the order, he or she could face harsh penalties. Keep in mind that court-ordered or imposed penalties can cause problems. Before filing a contempt suit, both parties involved should seek other ways to mutually resolving their differences.

If you are concerned that your child is in danger or that the other parent is planning to abduct your child, act quickly to protect your child. Seek urgent assistance from law enforcement. Keeping meticulous records of court orders and other documents, as well as maintaining clear lines of contact with the other parent, can help to mitigate the risk of dangerous circumstances.

In the event of kidnapping or abduction, you should take the following precautions:

  • Keeping a list of the other parent's relatives and friends' addresses and phone numbers.
  • Keeping track of crucial details about the other parent.
  • Make a detailed overview of your child, including physical characteristics and other traits.
  • Regularly taking full-face color photos for identification.

A Child Custody Agreement May Be Changed

After a divorce agreement has been signed, a child custody agreement can require substantial alteration. Unexpected circumstances could force you to change your child custody arrangements, whether you had a contested or uncontested divorce. When this happens, you have two options: outside of arbitration, you can discuss new terms with your partner, or you can petition the court to compel a change.

Reasons to Request Child Custody Changes

Custody disputes are often caused by changes in one or both parents' lives and daily schedules. If life changes have made it difficult to function under the child custody arrangement, you might be able to negotiate a modification that better accommodates such changes. Legal action can be taken to change your custody agreement if circumstances prohibit you from getting equal custody of your child.

Custody modifications are sought for a variety of purposes, including:

  • A child is having difficulties at school or at home.
  • The parent's work schedule is altered.
  • A parent moves out of the city or relocates.
  • A parent has a problem with drugs or alcohol.

What are my options for changing my custody orders?

You must show that there has been a substantial improvement in conditions since the initial orders were given in order to have the child custody orders modified by the judge. You must demonstrate that changing the orders is in your child's best interests. When seeking a modification, there is no time limit; the court may act at any time it is determined that the modification is "appropriate or proper" (Ca Fam 3022).

Some of the most common reasons for custody changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Your child wishes to spend more time with one of his or her parents.
  • In the treatment of the child, one parent is demonstrably and systematically reckless.
  • One parent is relocating to an inconvenient venue.
  • One parent works part-time or full-time.
  • One of the parents has been shown to be abusive or aggressive.

Outside Of Court Modification Arrangements

Making amendments to a child custody arrangement, like all modifications, may be petitioned to the court and determined by court procedures. It is best to stop petitioning the court for custody changes unless you have no other choice. Court-ordered custody changes have a number of drawbacks and can even face some threats. The following are some of the issues:

  • Expenses incurred as a result of court and solicitor fees
  • Protracted and charging court proceedings
  • Leaving the decision on change to a judge

Even if there are valid grounds for a modification, an ill-prepared court case can result in the modification being rejected or implemented in a way that is not in your or your children's best interests. It is preferable to explore alternate ways of addressing custody changes outside of court wherever possible. Couples can choose from a variety of options, including joint divorce and mediation.

Custody Issues

Even when court-ordered custody orders and arrangements are in effect, it is normal for families to have issues with them. There are ways to address these problems with the ability to alleviate hassle and grief, whether one parent is dissatisfied with the agreement or a change of circumstances has made these directives unfair for a family's situation. Where there is a problem or a disagreement about a custody arrangement, work quickly and efficiently to resolve the issue.

You may be looking ahead and anticipating issues with custody arrangements in the future. You may be wondering how custody would be divided or whether a child should have supervised interaction with another parent.

Custody Orders Issued by the Court

In certain cases, such as a disputed divorce, the custody order and other provisions can be decided by a judge. Judges consider a variety of factors when deciding on child custody in the best interests of the child. The majority of the facts that a judge will consider comes from court proceedings. If either or both parents withhold critical details during these periods, the court-ordered agreements could be dramatically altered.

When child custody is granted, each parent is required to meet strict criteria set out by a family law judge. When a parent makes poor decisions and goes against a court order, the parent can lose custody and/or visitation rights with their child before the courts rule otherwise. It is important to provide the judge with as much detail as possible when requesting court-ordered custody arrangements. While a court-ordered custody modification is not unlikely, it is also a time-consuming and costly procedure.

Avoid going to court by resolving these issues.

Negotiating these settlements without court oversight saves time and money, whether you're planning to make custody arrangements or requesting amendments. There are alternate strategies for determining child custody agreements, whether you are going through a divorce or are now legally divorced from your child's parent. Mediation and joint divorce are two of the most important methods you can consider. Both of these options have advantages that a court-ordered custody arrangement does not.

The following are some of the advantages of these alternative methods:

  • There will be no public record of the negotiations because they are private.
  • Avoiding the expense of court appearances and legal fees.
  • The mechanism is under the supervision of the parents.
  • Possibility of improving cooperation and preventing future disputes.
  • Reaching settlements that are beneficial to all parties concerned.

Parents meet outside of court to discuss the terms of the child custody agreement in both mediation and collaborative divorce. Parents are aided by a third-party mediator who manages the talks during mediation. Parents may bring their lawyers to both collaborative divorce and mediation, but legal counsel is not needed. The aim of these alternative approaches is to avoid involving a judge as much as possible and to encourage open contact between the parents.

In California, How Do I Get Custody?

If a family law court believes both parents are capable of providing for the child equally, shared physical and legal custody is usually granted. Custody decisions are made with the "best interests of the kid" in mind. When making a child custody decision, they consider many different aspects of the family situation. The following are some of the considerations that a family law court considers:

  • financial resources
  • Emotional assistance
  • Ability to communicate

Whether either or both parents obtain physical custody, legal custody, and/or shared custody is determined by court decisions. Parental rights and the decisions a parent may make about their child's future are determined by the form of custody. It is important that your parental rights are properly and efficiently expressed in the best interests of your family.

What Factors Go Into Determining Child Custody?

If one of your parents is unable to care for your child, don't risk a court awarding them custody rights that might endanger your child. Alcoholism, drug abuse, mental illness, and other factors can be used to convince a court that a parent is unfit to be a parent. If a court decides that one parent is unfit to raise a child, the other parent may be granted sole custody.

According to California law, the following factors can be used to determine child custody:

  • Age and gender of the child
  • Parental and living preferences of the child (if at least 12 years of age)
  • The physical and emotional well-being of children
  • The daily life of a child (home, academic, religious, etc.)
  • Relationships with parents on an emotional level
  • Changes' emotional effect on the child
  • Abuse of children in the past
  • A parent who can better preserve the child's relationship with the other parent
  • The willingness of parents to offer guidance
  • The willingness of parents to provide housing, food, clothes, and medical care
  • Parents' way of life
  • The physical and emotional well-being of parents
  • The actual educational quality of a child

At a parent's request, child custody arrangements can be changed at a later date. If a parent's circumstances change in a way that affects their ability to care for their child (e.g., one parent becomes impaired, their cost of living rises, they develop a drug or alcohol addiction, etc. ), they will ask the court for a child custody adjustment.

Child Custody & Parental Relocation

The emotional and physical well-being of the children becomes a top priority for both parents and the court. This factor will play a significant role in determining who will have custody of the children, how much visitation will be permitted, and how limited the parents will be from relocating following the divorce.

The following are some of the specific considerations that the court would consider:

  • The child's security and willingness to keep the existing custody agreement
  • What is the parent's distance from the child?
  • How old is the child?
  • What is the relationship between the child and both of his or her parents?
  • How cooperative, courteous, and communicative a child's parents are, as well as their willingness and ability to place their children's interests ahead of their own.
  • If the child is old enough, inquire about his or her interests.
  • The motivations of the parents for relocating
  • Under the new deal, how much custody is actually shared?

Relocating is not always a bad thing, whether it is for a new career, a better financial position, or for family reasons. The courts provide a civil procedure in order to protect the interests of the visiting parent, who is likely paying child support to the custodial parent. Although obtaining a move away order requires court approval, it is not impossible, particularly when requested by an experienced Family Law Attorney.

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California Move-Away Orders

A court cannot prevent an adult from relocating. When custody is given to one parent, however, it is subject to some restrictions. The court will use these conditions to keep a child from being moved away from their other parent and the community where they were raised. As a result, if a parent wishes to relocate with their child, they must demonstrate to the court that the relocation is in the child's best interests. This rule applies to all moves, whether they are within the county or to another state.

In California, case law on parental relocation favors the custodial parent, so the chances of securing a move away order are favorable at first. The court does agree, however, that the custodial parent's right to transfer the child can be waived if the other parent challenges the move and presents proof that the move is not in the child's best interests. Stunting a step away order is not difficult, given a child's desire for nourishing relationships with both parents.

What If I Don't Have Custody of My Children?

When it comes to relocating, parents who do not have custody of their children are not subjected to the same scrutiny. Moving away from the child, on the other hand, could result in a partial or complete loss of visitation rights. This is due to the fact that the farther they are from the child, the more difficult it is for the child to spend time with both parents, as the court ordered.

Aside from the financial burden, courts are wary of asking the child to move too often because, depending on their age, it could be detrimental to their emotional and mental well-being. You should not have to be prevented from pursuing new careers and life aspirations as a non-custodial parent. However, because of the move, you should not have to lose your relationship with your kids. If there's any unclarity, you should ask your Family Law Attorney for elaboration.

Types of visitation orders

The scheme on how the parents can spend time with their children is known as visitation (also known as "time-share"). Visitation with the children is granted to a parent who has custody of the children for less than half of the time. The best interests of the children, the parents' condition, and other factors all influence visitation orders. In general, visitation can take the form of:

  • Visitation on a regular basis

    • In general, comprehensive visiting schedules help parents and children avoid disputes and misunderstanding, so parents and courts also devise a visitation schedule that specifies the days and times when the children will be with each parent. Holidays, special events (such as birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and other significant dates for the family), and vacations can also be included in visitation schedules.

  • Fair visitation

    • A fair visitation order does not always specify when the children will spend time with each parent. These instructions are usually open-ended, allowing the parents to work things out amongst themselves. This form of visiting schedule will work if the parents get along well and are willing to be flexible and interact effectively. However, if there are any conflicts or misunderstandings between the parents, such an open schedule will cause problems between them, and the children can suffer as a result.

  • Visitation under supervision

    • This is used when the children's protection and well-being necessitate you, another adult, or a specialist entity supervising visits with the other parent. For more information on supervised visitation, click here. Supervised visiting is often used in situations when a child and a parent need time to get to know each other, such as when a parent hasn't seen the child in a long time and needs to slowly reacquaint themselves.

  • No visitation

    • When visiting with the parent, even with supervision, it may be physically or emotionally harmful to the children; this choice is used. It is not in the best interests of the children for the parent to have any interaction with the children in these situations.

Grandparents' Visitation Rights

If you're a grandparent looking for guidance on visitation with your grandchildren, there are a variety of tools available to help you learn about your choices and rights as a grandparent.

A grandparent can petition the court for fair visits with a grandchild under California law. In order for a grandparent to have fair visitation with their grandchildren, the court must:

Determine whether or not there was a prior relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild that "engendered a connection." This indicates that there is such a strong bond between grandparents and grandchild that visitation is in the grandchild's best interests.

Balance the child's best interests in getting grandparent visitation with the parent's rights to make choices about their children.

If the grandparent's parents are married, grandparents cannot generally file for visitation rights. However, there are some exceptions, such as:

  • The parents are no longer living together.
  • The location of a parent is uncertain (and has been for at least a month);
  • One of the parents agrees to the grandparent's visitation request;
  • Neither of the child's parents lives with him or her; or
  • A stepparent has taken in the grandchild.

If a grandparent has visitation through the courts and circumstances shift to the point that none of these exceptions apply, one or both parents may petition the court to terminate the grandparent's visitation, and the court must do so at that time. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your Cal Bar Attorney Search.

Find A California Family Lawyer in California is a California Bar Association Certified Free Attorney Referral Service that can match you with a fitting Child Custody Lawyer. You can contact us through our 24/7 Live Chat (or complete our submission form) for a Free Initial Case Review.