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Child Custody

Navigating through the child custody process is emotionally taxing and often confusing. You don’t have to navigate this process alone. At Family Court Direct, we can help you avoid high attorney fees and provide fast, affordable help. When determining the amount of time a parent, guardian, or another family member can spend with a child, many courts defer to the child’s “best interests.” Judges are not permitted to base their decisions based on the gender of either party, and must instead consider the health, safety, and welfare of the child.

Judges are also required to decide if the child would benefit from frequent and continuing contact with one or both parents. If you do not have a court order in place, then you will need to get one to enforce your custody rights and time-share with your child.

Child Custody Evaluation

Custody actions are centered on the primary residence of the child. The judge will consider many different elements when making his decision, including the age of the child, the financial situation of each parent, and any and all other factors that can impact the health and safety of the child. Judges can, and often will defer to previous agreements crafted by the parties involved, so it is best to begin by attempting to establish a cooperative relationship with the other parent.

As of 2012, when deciding custody California courts consider the child’s preference on custody if the child is at least 14 and considered mature enough. Courts can sometimes consider the wishes of a younger child regarding child custody, but won’t give much weight to that opinion.

Child custody options include full custody and joint custody, with physical custody and legal custody as additional subcategories of the court order. Either party can modify initial orders at any time with an Order to Show Cause or Custody/Visitation Agreement Order.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements

Although a child custody plan is supposed to fit the needs of your family and there are no universal arrangements, there are two main types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. However, parents are often encouraged to share these types of custody if that is possible. Joint physical custody means sharing physical custody, while joint legal custody occurs when a child’s parents share legal custody.

Legal custody is the right to make significant decisions about a child’s life, such as decisions regarding the child’s education, welfare, and health care. Although joint custody means cooperating and making decisions together, both parents have the right to decide and they don’t have to agree on everything. However, cooperation is advisable in order to avoid ending up in court.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives after his or her parent’s divorce or separation. In joint custody cases, children live with both parents. Since it’s hard to arrange that children spend exactly the same amount of time with both parents, they typically spend a little more time with one parent. That parent is called the primary custodial parent.

On the other hand, sole custody means only one parent makes all significant decisions regarding the child’s life. A sole custody order can also mean that a child lives with one parent, while the other parent has visitation rights. That parent is considered a non-custodial parent.

How Can Family Court Direct Help

Unfortunately, when a family unit is dissolved or separated, a child custody case can get complicated and divisive. While each parent or family member is looking out for the child, many times it’s difficult for parties to come to an agreement.

Under California law, if parents can’t agree on child custody and visitation issues, the judge will make a decision instead based on the best interest of the child.

As part of a divorce proceeding or a paternity action, the family court can order custody and visitation. In some states, grandparents may also pursue custody as part of guardianship action.

Put Family Court Direct to work for you, so you can focus on moving forward. We’ll help find a solution that works for everyone.

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