Issues of Child Custody
Regulating and establishing the legal relationship between parents and children in a divorce proceeding is termed child custody. The determination of child custody in California is based on the overall best interests of the child, ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of the child. Frequent contact with both parents is a major goal, provided that there are no issues of domestic violence, child abuse, or other reasons why the child should not see one of their parents.
Anyone can petition for custody of a child, if the parents are deemed unfit or in the event that they have both experienced untimely death. Stepparents, grandparents, or any other party who believes that they can provide appropriate care may request custody depending on the situation. Agreeing upon a custody settlement may prove difficult without the representation of a qualified attorney. We highly recommend that you do not enter into a divorce without legal assistance.
Child's Best Interests Are a Deciding Factor
The court will grant custody according to California family code §3040 which states that custody should be granted in an order of preference and according to the best interests of the child. The court will generally grant either joint custody to both parents or sole custody to one of the parents first before they would ever grant custody to another party.
One of the major determining factors in deciding who the child will live with is based upon the relationship the child and parent share. Judges will often allow the child to choose who they would prefer to live with, but it does not mean that they will always follow through with the child's wishes. Should there be questionable conduct or a history of illegal activity from either parent, this can greatly deter their chances of custody.
California courts have no preference or presumption either for or against joint custody. If the parents cannot come to an agreement concerning custody and visitation, then the court will decide on a case-by-case basis, based on what the court believes to be in the best interests of the child. Mediations are often a great alternative to deciding these complicated issues in a court setting. This allows for the parents to both have a say in the determining the future of their children.
Two Types of Custody
Parents who are deciding how to divide time, care and support of their child or children must determine who will have legal and physical custody. The parent or parents who take charge of making pertinent decisions for their children about health care, welfare and education are considered to have legal custody. It can apply to joint and sole custody situations, allowing for parents to confer on important decisions if they so desire. Ultimately they are in control of the way the child is raised by handling doctors' appointments, schooling, travel, where they will live and if they will follow any particular religious practices.
Physical custody simply means that one or both parents get time with their child. This can apply to both sole and joint custody situations, but is dependent upon the court's ruling on the capability of the parents to care adequately for the child. In joint custody cases, it does not require that the child live with both parents for an equal amount of time. Typically the child will have to live with one parent more than other due to the inability to split time exactly in half. Sole custody cases usually allow for visitation rights for the non-custodial parent, unless there is evidence that the other parent is incapable of providing a safe and healthy environment for the child. A judge may grant legal custody to both parents, but not mandate that the parents both have physical custody.
Compassionate and Steadfast Representation
With focused efforts on providing cost-effective and efficient legal assistance, Attorney Michael Burt is passionate about providing you and your family with your divorce proceedings. As a dedicated legal professional, he will aim to bring about amicable results with as little turmoil as possible. Familiar with California family law and court procedures, he is prepared to bring forth a solid case on your behalf.
Our firm deals exclusively with family law matters and we are well-versed and adept in the field of divorce and family law. As a small boutique law firm, we can provide responsive and personalized attention to your case. We have successfully helped countless clients throughout the Los Angeles area in resolving their family law issues, including child custody disputes.