If you are fighting for child custody in court I can help you work out a solution in the best interest of the children. I encourage my clients to be respectful in all negotiations because I recognize that everyone will have to work together to implement any visitation plan.
What types of child custody are there in California?
The issues related to child custody are complicated. They can come up when you are dealing with a dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership for the first time. Other times issues come to court years after a judgment. Child custody in California is separated into legal and physical custody. Legal child custody refers to the right of the parent to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of the child. Physical child custody on the other hand refers to where the child lives.
Won’t the court grant me full child custody?
Most courts will award joint legal child custody, which means both parents are entitled to make key decisions for the children. However, the specifics of a joint legal custody arrangement will vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the family. It is important to spell out as many details as possible in the initial order, including how to work through certain issues when they arise. If the order is not clear in one area, parents have to return to court when they disagree.
OK but can’t I get sole physical child custody?
The division of physical child custody is much more complicated. One parent is typically designated the primary caretaker and the child spends most of their time with that parent during the week. The other parent is often given time during specific evenings during the week and some weekends. Judges slowly transition to 50/50 custody as appropriate. Judges avoid drastic changes because stability is important for young children. For purposes of calculating child support payments, the time the child spends with each parent is simplified into percentages. The percentages used here are part of the child support calculations. Typically the parent who spends a larger percentage of time with their child will be presumed to take on a larger chunk of the childcare costs. Thus courts order the other parent to pay child support.
Courts send parties to mediation to determine the best child custody arrangement
The Court is going to send the parents to mediation to work out a child-sharing schedule. The goal is to consider the best interests of the children. Hiring an attorney early on can help you prepare for this mediation. Other times, I refer clients to professionals who help them prepare for mediation. I connect with local professionals who used to act as a mediator for family court services.
How does the court handle cases with three parents?
The California Family Code allows courts to recognize three parents. Courts will attempt to split the child custody time between the three of them. Here, the goal is to allow for each of them to spend significant time with the child. As always, courts want parents to be flexible when sharing their time with the other parents. The parent who is more flexible in sharing the children often appears better to the judge. Parents who can adapt to changes with their children can avoid returning to court. If you can agree, it is useful to write up an agreement with the other parents. The agreement should be filed with the court. When the judge signs the agreement it becomes an order.