Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties
Law Firm Specializing in Child Custody and Visitation Disputes in the Inland Empire of Southern California
When parents decide to separate or get a divorce their children are necessarily impacted in a variety of ways. Provided they are safe and cared for in an appropriate manner, children have the right to enjoy time with both of their parents even when the parents are no longer together. When parents are unable to agree on the division of their child’s time, it may be necessary to involve the courts in the arrangement of child custody.
When determining what custody arrangement is in the best interest of a child, a judge may consider many different factors (Fam. Code § 3040 – § 3049). Some of those factors include:
- The health, safety, and welfare of the child (Fam. Code § 3011(a)(1)).
- The desires of the child (beginning at age 14) (Fam. Code § 3042).
- The stability of each parent
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent (Fam. Code § 3020(a), § 3011(a)(2)(A), § 3044).
- Habitual illegal use of controlled substances and abuse of alcohol or prescription drugs by either parent (Fam. Code § 3011(a)(4)).
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child
- The nature and amount of contact the child currently has with each parent (Fam. Code § 3011(a)(3)).
The family court may make any orders regarding the custody of a child, during the child’s minority, that seems necessary or proper (Fam. Code § 3022) if the parents are not able to come to an agreement in child custody mediation.
California custody law gives the court a large degree of discretion, and an experienced child custody attorney can help navigate the factors the court may consider in determining child custody in the state of California.
Family Code 3021 gives the family court the authority to make child custody determinations in the following matters:
- Nullity of Marriage
- Legal Separation
- Domestic Violence Prevention Act Proceedings
- Dissolution of Domestic Partnership
Factors the California Family Court Does Not Consider in Child Custody Cases
- The sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation of a parent (Fam. Code § 3040(c), § 3020(d), § 3011(d)).
Legal Custody of a Child under California Law
Legal custody falls into two categories:
- Joint, where both parents equally share the right and responsibility to make decisions about the welfare, health, and education of a child (Fam. Code § 3003).
- Sole, where only one parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions about the welfare, health, and education of a child (Fam. Code § 3006).
A parent with legal custody of a child makes the decisions and choices about their child’s:
- School and/or child care
- Religious activities
- Psychiatric, psychological, and other mental health counseling or therapy needs
- Doctors, dentists, orthodontists, and other health professionals
- Extracurricular activities
- Residence (where the child will live)
Those parents who share joint legal custody of their child both have the right to make decisions about the categories above, but they do not have to agree on every decision.
Either parent can make a decision alone, but to avoid unnecessary problems that will land them back in court, both parents need to communicate with each other in making decisions together. This communication is called co-parenting and is a necessary tool for parents raising a child together, after separation. For help honing this skill, a co-parenting therapist can assist parents in need.
Physical Custody of a Child under California Law
Like legal custody, physical custody falls into two categories:
- Joint, where the child lives with both parents (Cal Fam. Code § 3004).
- Sole, where the child lives with one parent most of the time and visits the other parent (Cal Fam. Code § 3007).
Despite how the term may sound, joint physical custody doesn’t always mean that the child spends exactly half the time with each parent. Oftentimes, children spend more time with one parent than the other because it is too hard on the child to split their time exactly in half. In such circumstances, a parent may be awarded primary physical custody of a child. This means that the parents share joint custody, but the child’s residence for school enrollment purposes is the residence of the parent with primary physical custody.
What do Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases?
When parents are unable to reach a stipulated agreement in a custody case, they may end up on opposite sides of a courtroom. Our attorneys will provide the knowledge and skill necessary to prevail in a child custody case efficiently and effectively, taking into consideration the best interests of the child.
Each parent and custody case is unique, and so are the factors that may impact the outcome of their custody case.
Child Custody Considerations Applied by Family Courts in California
Factors family courts may consider when determining the best interests of a child include:
- Activities each parent is involved in with the child
- Amount of time each parent currently spends with the child
- Whether a parent is promoting a healthy and positive relationship between the child and the other parent (alienation)
- Volatile circumstances that disrupt the child’s quality of life (arguments, threats, negativity, or domestic violence)
- Work schedules of both parents, travel, and commitments outside the home
Many child custody cases are filled with complications and intricacies (such as move-away requests) requiring the knowledge and skill of an experienced child custody lawyer who is accomplished in the field. We provide a free consultation to anyone who is seeking to put the best interests of their child first.
Our attorneys understand the difficult nature of even the idea of spending time away from your child, which is why we focus on positive solutions for everyone involved, especially your child. Parental separation is already very complicated, and children often feel torn about the circumstances that will determine where they live, how they will travel, and how much time they get to spend with each parent.
Who Has Custody of a Child if There is No Court Order?
If there is no child custody order in place, both parents have an equal right to custody of the child and either parent may lawfully take physical possession of the child at any time. Oftentimes, unreasonably withholding a child from the other parent is the event which prompts the parent from whom the child has been withheld to seek judicial intervention. Taking the child away without the other parent’s consent can be held against a parent in court if that action was not reasonable.
Contact Our Experienced California Child Custody Attorneys Now
Parents can rely on the experience of our child custody attorneys in obtaining child custody agreements, orders, modifications, and judgments. Our Southern California family law firm fights hard to make the legal system work for our clients. We understand that it is often in the best interests of the child for the parents to come to an amicable stipulated agreement regarding custody or visitation.
Call the experienced family law attorneys and custody lawyers in Orange County, Los Angeles and Riverside at Talkov Law at (951) 888-3300 or contact us online for a free consultation about your case. Learn how our experienced custody attorney, Colleen Sparks, can guide you through the court process in a prompt and clear manner.