Family law has jurisdiction over issues of child custody and visitation, in addition to child and spouse support. In California, law entitles parents to a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, meaning fault is no longer relevant. When children are involved, parents must understand that a divorce will end the marriage, but also require a plan for deciding how they will share and divide their parenting responsibilities. Issues regarding child custody and visitation must be in writing and signed by both parents and a judge.
California law allows either parent to have custody or to share custody between the two. If parents cannot agree on a parenting arrangement, the court will determine each parent’s rights and obligations based on the best interests of the children. Ultimately, it is up to the judge to make the final decision. However, he/she will usually honor the decision reached by the parents when terms have been agreed upon.
Having a San Diego child custody lawyer is crucial during this time. Contact our firm at (760) 634-7630!
There is sole custody in two regards – sole legal custody and sole physical custody. A judge will grant custody or visitation rights after considering everything involved; including the child’s health, safety and welfare, as well as any history of abuse by one parent. Sole legal custody means one parent has the right to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of the children. Sole physical custody means the child lives with one parent and the other parent has visitation
Parents unable to agree on matters of custody or visitation on their own will have to go through several steps to finalizing a plan before the judge will approve a decision. In some instances, custody and visitation can be decided on a temporary basis if there are immediate problems. For example, if one parent plans on moving and wants to take the children along or a new school year is approaching, the judge might grant temporary sole custody to a parent. If the judge believes one parent’s involvement with the child’s well being is compromised, sole custody might be ordered to one parent with supervised or no visitation to the other.
If a child is “of sufficient age and capacity to reason” the judge must consider what the child wants, but the child’s input is not required to weigh in the judge’s final decision. In some instances, a child’s true wishes are not conveyed because they are influenced by what their parents have told them to say or are afraid of hurting a parent’s feelings. When parents are unable to come to a decision on their own in the custody and visitation deciding process, both parents are required to meet with a trained counselor hired by the court before a hearing or trial even begins.
The counselor can also be helpful in trying to determine the child’s real wishes. Child custody disputes can be very complex, and a family law attorney can help parents understand their rights and duties in regards to their children. An attorney can also help advise parents how much they should pay or receive for child support.
An experienced and knowledgeable San Diego child custody attorney can represent the client through every single step of the divorce.