Filing for divorce in California can be an extremely stressful and emotionally charged situation, and this is especially true when children are involved. Of all the legal disputes that typically arise during divorce proceedings in Los Angeles, determining parental custody and visitation rights has to be one of the most difficult. Many parents filing for divorce in California are loving, caring individuals who only want to do what is best for their children, but oftentimes, it is impossible for parents to agree on what their children’s bests interests actually are. If you are filing for divorce in Los Angeles, or if you have been served divorce papers by your spouse, and you are concerned about reaching an agreeable child custody arrangement, don’t hesitate to get legal help. Contact Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today at (213) 550-4600 for a free initial consultation.
Affordable Los Angeles Child Custody Attorney
Determining child custody in a California divorce case is a sensitive, stressful matter that can easily become a point of contention among couples who are unable to agree on a shared plan for co-parenting their children. Our family law attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles have experience guiding divorce clients through productive child custody negotiations and can help you and the other parent create a workable, amicable custody agreement that meets the needs of the two of you and your children as well. In some cases, California child custody disputes can be resolved outside of court, through mediation, but in many situations these family law cases end up going to trial. Either way, our Los Angeles child custody lawyers will represent your legal rights to the full extent of the law.
Understanding Your Child Custody Rights in California
When couples who have children together get a divorce or legally separate, one of their most important considerations should be establishing parental custody and visitation rights. There are two main types of child custody under California law: legal and physical custody.
Legal custody (California Family Code § 3003) can be joint, in which both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about their children’s health, welfare and education, or sole, in which one parent is granted the exclusive responsibility for making these decisions, though the other parent may still have visiting rights. It is the presumption of the court in most divorce proceedings that it is in the best interest of the child to have continuing contact with both parents. However, if the parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, it is up to the court to decide how they will share time with their children. Parents with legal custody are responsible for making the major decisions or choices about their children’s schooling or child care, residence, religious activities, mental health needs, medical needs, travel and extracurricular activities.
Physical custody (California Family Code § 3004) can also be joint, which means the children live with both parents, or sole, which means the children live with one parent for most of the time and may schedule regular visits with the other parent. California law favors joint legal and physical custody when both parents can agree to it. If they don’t agree, the court will establish a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interests.
How to File for Child Custody in California
Parental custody rights vary from state to state, and in California, the courts typically base their child custody and visitation decisions on what is best for the health, safety and welfare of the children in question, whereas in the past, they would typically automatically give custody to the mother over the father. To set up a child custody or visitation order for your children, you or the other parent must request an order from the court. This can happen in one of two ways. If you already have a family court case in progress, for your divorce for example, you can ask for a court date for custody and visitation issues. During divorce proceedings, either parent can file for legal or physical custody of their children, and in order to do so, the parent must file the proper child custody forms requesting a court order that awards joint or sole custody of the children. If you do not have an open case and need to start one, you can file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children, which allows the court to make custody and visitation arrangements. When making a child custody and visitation decision in California, the court will take into consideration a number of factors, including the following:
- The best interests of the children
- The children’s wishes, if they are over the age of 12
- Which parent is more likely to encourage frequent visits with the other parent
- Any parental history of drug use
- Any parental history of domestic violence
How an Experienced Los Angeles Child Custody Attorney Can Help
Children of divorced parents in California have the right to spend time with both parents, provided both parents are able to keep them safe and can care for them in an appropriate manner. However, when determining what is in the best interest of a child in terms of custody, the court is allowed a great deal of discretion and the judge assigned to your case may consider any number of factors in making his or her decision about where your children should live, and which parent has the right to make the most important decisions about your children’s lives.
Our attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles understand that it is often in the best interest of a child for his or her parents to come to an amicable agreement regarding child custody or visitation, as it avoids your family’s future being dictated by a judge who is unfamiliar with your situation and needs, and we can help guide you through this difficult process in a manner that is satisfactory for all parties. However, if you are unable to agree to custody terms with the other parent and your case goes to trial, our attorneys will represent your case with the competence and compassion a sensitive situation like this requires.
Free Child Custody Consultation in Los Angeles
Divorce and parental custody rights are extremely important family law matters, and California law requires parents who are unable to reach an amicable custody agreement on their own to attend mediation before going to court, where a judge will determine custody. The main objective of our law firm is to help clients reach fair and fast resolutions to their marriage dissolution and child custody disputes, and we are committed to providing you with the personal attention and qualified representation you deserve, from the moment you enlist our help until the last piece of paperwork is signed. If you are involved in a contentious child custody dispute in California, contact our child custody attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today at (213) 550-4600 for a free initial consultation. Our legal team has extensive experience protecting the rights of California parents filing for divorce, and will provide you with knowledgeable, compassionate representation in all aspects of your child custody matter.