California Child Custody Laws
Torrance Family Law Attorney With Over 2 Decades of Experience In Child Custody Matters
Child custody is one of the most difficult issues a parent faces during divorce. Child custody grants the legal and practical relationship between a parent and child. It involves the care, control and upbringing of a child that is granted by the courts when parents divorce or are not living in the same household. It includes the right to make decisions for the child and defines the amount of time each parent will be spending with him or her.
Court ordered legal custody and parenting time are mandates, meaning they are required by law. Violations of child custody orders can lead to fines, community service and further punishments, to include jail time.
Bruce A. Mandel is dedicated to protecting your rights to raise your child in a healthy, thriving environment. We represent families throughout California in the South Bay Area, Los Angeles County and Orange County in all aspects of child custody and visitation, including:
- Primary and joint custody arrangements
- Visitation rights
- Grandparent visitation
- Modification of custody and visitation orders
- Enforcement of orders
- Decisions related to religion, education and upbringing of the child
Child custody grants the legal and practical relationship between a parent and child & it includes the right to make decisions for the child and defines the amount of time each parent will be spending with him or her.
Advantages Of Mediation In Regards To Child Custody In California
It is in a child’s best interest when parents maintain a cordial relationship. The structured process of mediation can enable this to happen. Couples can often set aside hostility and agree on key decisions that will affect their children.
It can be done with each parent at a different time when that is the preferred environment.
Mediation takes some of the stress out of child custody conflicts, for both parents and children. It can be a highly effective tool for parents to preserve their children’s well-being and the stability of their lives during the turbulent process of divorce.
Because of this process, important child-rearing decisions can be left in the hands of the parents rather than the court. The Law Offices of Bruce A. Mandel meticulously develops mediation strategies that carefully guide the negotiating process towards healthy resolution.
Mediation is mandatory in all contested custody and parenting time cases (not including domestic violence cases) before you go in front of a judge to decide. Attendance as well as active participation is necessary.
The mediation process is confidential with certain exceptions. A mediator may report to the judge his or her recommendations based on what took place in the session. This individual must provide these findings in writing to the parents and their attorneys. A skilled California attorney can guide you after these have been presented to you.
Child Custody & When Litigation Becomes Appropriate
In some cases, litigation becomes necessary to protect a child’s best interest. When mediation is not enough, it is important to enlist the help of experienced legal representation. When one parent refuses to compromise or expresses hostility towards the other parent, negotiations fail. Sometimes a parent may even pose a danger to the child’s well-being.
Our firm’s experience with California’s laws and methodical approach to litigation enables you to feel confident your children are protected, and your parental rights are secure. We will guide you through the process towards the best outcome for you and your children.
Communication Between Parents Regarding Child Custody
Family law judges have the expectation that parents will communicate effectively. Before making a decision, they will consider whether one parent is preventing communication or making co-parenting impossible.
California laws support mature communication and co-parenting with the point of view that if one parent shows themselves unwilling to do so, they won’t be looked favorably upon for custody decisions.
When one parent interferes with another’s rights and is uncooperative in general, this behavior can lead to a custody change and contempt of court.
Your case needs to be properly presented by an attorney who can advocate for your rights using the facts and the law. Unfortunately, without legal representation the court is not going to go out of its way to ensure the facts of your case are presented fully if you aren’t able to do it. This is why it is crucial to get the best legal representation for your child’s future.
The Child’s Best Interest According To California Law
The main standard in California for decision making when it comes to child custody revolves around what is the best for the child. It gives the court discretion to implement a custody plan that seems to align with the child’s health, safety, education and basic welfare. Giving the court a wide decision-making ability, it allows them to thoroughly evaluate and weight the facts on a case by case basis.
California Child Custody Laws And A Child’s Preference
Family Code Section 3042 went into effect in 2012, which makes what a child prefers more important than it ever has been before. While this factor weighs heavily on custody, there are a lot of variables that go into it, such as the child’s age and maturity, parental influence and any conditioning by one parent or the other, as well as any alienation of one parent that has unfairly occurred. Children’s preferences are also given precedence when it comes to visitation, as far as when they may want to visit a parent.
How A Child’s Bond With A Parent Factors Into A Child Custody Case
The bond that exists between a child and parent may come into play when a child has a preference. It also weighs in when a court decides on child custody. It is the sense of closeness a child feels to a parent and includes a level of attention and caring that has been developed and nurtured into a relationship.
Sometimes one parent may have a deeper bond because the other was working a lot of hours. This can be remedied and change. Courts take that relationship fluidity into consideration also. Bonds can be strengthened over time.
Of course, this emotional relating has everything to do with a child’s maturity and temperament as well as a parent’s personality. Quality time with a child is emphasized rather than the number of hours that are put into the relationship.
The courts will also honor the bond between siblings and try to preserve those relationships by keeping children together in one household. Strong evidence must be submitted to separate siblings where child custody is concerned.
Adversely Affecting A Child’s Relationship With The Other Parent
When one parent negatively affects the child’s relationship with the other parent, the court takes this lack of co-parenting cooperation into consideration. Unreasonable conduct, although vaguely defined, does not have to include as serious offenses as false child abuse allegations or total parental alienation.
Interfering with the other parent’s rights can lead to trouble when it comes to custody rights. The nature of the interference is weighed according to how serious the court deems it is in the case.
Not having an attorney in a situation where you may have trouble legally defining how the other parent has interfered with your rights can leave you without a means to make it stand up in court.
Learning About Joint Physical And Legal Custody in California
You’ll need to learn about some terms and conditions when given the order to maintain joint custody. It typically means each parent will have half parenting time with the child living half the time with one parent, and half the time with the other.
At times parents will work out a time arrangement that doesn’t end up being 50-50 exactly, but will be usually 40% or more.
Common schedules for joint custody include a week on and week off schedule or a 2-days on, 2-days off, then 3-days on alternating schedule, so that the week is split between both parents. Holidays are typically split, unless one parent does not celebrate holidays, in which case the other parent may get the children for all the holidays.
Legal custody means each parent has the right to contribute equally and be part of the decision-making process when it comes to education, medical care and the like. This indicates that communication is mandated.
Again, a parent can be held in contempt of court if they undermine the other’s ability to take part in the legal aspect of parenting, for example, by keeping important medical or educational decisions inaccessible or hidden from the other parent. One parent has to consult the other regarding decisions that are important for the child, such as extracurricular activities, health, religious activities and more.
Sole physical custody is given when children live with that specific parent. In these cases, typically the other parent is given visitation rights and possibly legal rights to decision making. Usually sole legal custody is not favored unless the non-custodial parent has committed certain acts or is not involved at all. The court favors both parents to be an influence in the decision-making process for the child’s best interest regarding legal custody.
Primary custody is also a term used to indicate when one parent has full custody. It is used when the legal term of sole physical custody sounds harsh to certain people.
A parent can be held in contempt of court if they undermine the other’s ability to take part in the legal aspect of parenting, for example, by keeping important medical or educational decisions inaccessible or hidden from the other parent.
Frequent And Continuing Contact With Both Parents
Custody orders are determined to make sure children have frequent and consistent contact with each parent when appropriate. This is the case when doing so is in the child’s best interest. This law is not specifically defined and gives the court a range of discretion for each case.
A child custody request for order can be for an initial need or to modify an existing order. They detail what you want and how it is in the best interests of the child, as well as any pertaining facts supporting your cause.
It is important to have a well-written declaration which supports your case properly, particularly if there are potential factual disputes. To give your case the highest standard of success and your children the best opportunities, allow our firm to use their expertise to guide you towards the outcome you envision.
Contact a Trustworthy Torrance Attorney For Help With Your Child Custody Matters
If you need help with a Child Custody matter, contact us today via our online form or by calling us directly at (424) 250-9130. Our firm can help you navigate through the complexities of child custody cases and ensure the best outcome for all involved.