Child Custody & Visitation
Protecting the Best Interests of Families and Their Children Throughout California
Have you recently filed for divorce in California and concerned about your child custody rights? Are you considering petitioning the court for full physical and/or legal custody? Have you been granted visitation rights but want to appeal the current arrangement? If so, Kevin Jamison Law, PC can help.
When couples file for legal separation or divorce, oftentimes, it is their children who experience the greatest amount of stress and emotional turmoil. Even if spouses agree to part ways amiably, their children (especially young children) may blame themselves for their parents’ marital issues, may feel immense confusion over the separation or divorce and may even suffer depression or develop feelings of resentment toward their parents. Establishing custody and visitation arrangements is a very delicate matter, but with the help of an experienced lawyer, an agreement can be reached that favors the entire family.
Our California family law attorneys are committed to protecting the rights and best interests of families – especially those of children. We understand that any matter concerning children must be carefully reviewed and help families arrive at a custody or visitation arrangement that most thoroughly encompasses their needs.
Understanding California Child Custody Laws
In the state of California, custody of children is awarded solely based on what is in the best interests of the child. Unless a parent has a history of abuse, addiction or other detrimental or harmful behaviors that may endanger their child, the court will grant both parents equal custody rights to both preserve the child’s relationship with their parents and maintain as much of a sense of security for the child as possible. No parent is favored over the other, provided that both have demonstrated the ability to provide for their children’s bests interests, including their health and safety. However, depending on the age and maturity level of the child, the court may take the child’s preference into consideration when determining custody arrangements.
Types of Custody Agreements
In California, parents can be granted either legal or physical custody of their children – or both. With either type of custody right, parents may either be granted joint custody (meaning both parents have equal rights), primary custody (meaning one parent will be the primary custodian or decision maker) or sole custody (meaning only parent will have full custody rights).
Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to the authority of a parent to make important and potentially life-altering decisions regarding their children, such as decisions concerning their child’s health, education, religion and general wellbeing. Unless extenuating circumstances are present, California law favors granting both parents joint legal custody of their child.
Physical Custody: Physical custody determines the child’s living arrangements as well as how much time a child spends with each parent. While courts will favor joint physical custody agreements, it is not uncommon for one parent to be granted primary physical custody (typically the child’s primary caretaker) while the other is given frequent visitation rights. In certain situations, one parent may be given visitation rights but may not be granted decision-making (legal custody) rights.
California child custody laws favor parents having joint custody of their children, both legal and physical custody. However, joint custody isn’t always a feasible option, and when it’s not, parents can determine a schedule for visitation following legal separation or divorce. Parents have the right to determine custody arrangements on their own, however, if parents cannot agree on the terms of the visitation schedule, the court will establish the arrangement based on the best interest of the child. That being said, there are times when the circumstances of a parent can drastically change for the greater good of the family. When this occurs, the parent with visitation rights can petition the court with the help of a California family law attorney to request an amendment to the visitation arrangements.
If parents cannot agree on a custody or visitation agreement, the court will make the final decision after evaluating the relationship between parent and child, as well as a number of other circumstances, such as each parent’s ability to provide for their child, their criminal background (or lack thereof), their overall health, among other factors. However, prior to undergoing court proceedings, California law requires parents to attend mediation. The purpose of mediation is to encourage parents to communicate with one another and resolve their differences outside of court so as to establish a parenting plan that defines each parent’s roles and responsibilities regarding the child.
Do You Have Questions About Child Custody and Visitation Rights? Contact a California Family Law Attorney Today
If you are considering divorce or legal separation, or, if you already have an existing child custody or visitation arrangement in place that you would like to amend, the KJ Law team is here to help. We understand that family matters are extremely delicate and work diligently to help you reach a custody or visitation agreement that is in the best interest of your child. Schedule a consultation today by calling (626) 314-1830 or submitting an online request. House calls and after-hours appointments are available upon request for your convenience.