Long Beach Child Custody Attorney
Get Accomplished Legal Help in Long Beach, Mission Viejo, & Southern California
Few issues are more important to divorcing parents as child custody and visitation. The breakup of the family is a threatening facet of divorce wherein parents commonly feel that their relationship with their child(ren) could be jeopardized by unfair custody decisions. Working with your soon-to-be ex-spouse to reach common ground on this issue is preferred by courts and many parents strive to do this. However, this can be a difficult task especially when conflict and animosity has built up between spouses over the life of the marriage.
When facing the critical issue of child custody and how parenting time schedules will be arranged, it pays to have a trusted attorney in your corner. At Curtis Family Law, we understand how difficult this issue can be given the stakes and the stress on both parents and children. With a Certified Family Law Specialist onboard, however, we are well-equipped to help you resolve this issue, whether through compromise and negotiation with the other side or in court before a judge with a fully-prepared case.
Child custody is an issue that can affect clients from all walks of life, economic levels, in traditional or same-sex marriages, or between unmarried parents involved in a paternity case. Regardless of the details, our Long Beach child custody attorney brings 40 years of experience to the table, is fully versed in California law on the matter, understands how local courts view the issue, and can provide strategic representation designed to protect your parental rights while adhering to court guidelines for the child’s best interests.
What Are The Different Types of Custody Arrangements in California?
In California, as in other states, custody is broken down into three types which may be granted jointly to both parents, solely to one parent or a third-party.
- Physical custody. This involves where the child will live. In joint physical custody, the child will reside with both parents on an alternating schedule. Joint may not be a 50-50 split due to various factors such as the need to maintain current daycare or school locations. In such cases, the child will likely reside with one parent more than the other. This parent is often referred to as having primary physical custody while the other parent has a set number of overnights or weekends.
- Legal custody. This type of custody gives a parent the authority to make major life decisions for the child, such as schooling/education, health and dental care, religious upbringing, and any other relevant issue.
- Third-Party Custody. This kind of custody is granted when giving custody to one of the child's parents would be detrimental to the child's overall wellbeing. Custody can be awarded to a grandparent, guardian, family member, relative, or friend. However the court cannot appoint this type of guardianship and it must be initiated by the third party in order to be granted custody.
Custody can be arranged in any combination of joint or sole for both types. Courts, however, favor a child maintaining a frequent and meaningful relationship with both parents unless some reason would make this unsafe for the child, such as domestic violence or substance abuse. Courts always seek a solution that they believe is best for the child and operate on the basis that both parents have an equal right to custody. Courts also do not favor mothers over fathers.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a schedule that is constructed outlining the time spent with each parent. Where joint custody has been granted, such a plan would detail the schedule the child would maintain in living alternately with each parent. In creating such as plan, it is important to be as detailed as possible, also laying out arrangements for:
- Special occasions
- Summer breaks
- How the child is to be transported back and forth between homes
Visitation Schedules for Noncustodial Parents
Where sole physical custody has been granted, a “visitation” schedule may be arranged giving the noncustodial parent specific time with the child. The more specific any type of plan is, the less chance there will be for disputes. The more the plan is adhered to, the more stability the child will have.
If you and the child’s other parent can create custody and parenting time arrangements on your own, these can be submitted to the court for approval. If approved, they can become a family law court order that is legally binding.
How Do Courts Decide Custody in California?
In the event that you and your co-parent cannot agree on custody arrangements, it will be left up to the court to decide. Courts may look at many factors in deciding this issue.
Determining factors may include:
- The child’s age and health
- The child’s connections to home, school, and other activities
- The relationship the child has had with each parent
- Whether one parent has acted as the main caregiver
- Whether a parent will foster the child’s relationship with the other parent
- The parenting skills of each parent
- Each parent’s financial resources
- Any other factor that the court finds relevant to the matter
In cases where a child is at least 14 and mature enough to have a preference for mainly living with one or the other parent, the court may support this preference.
Establishing Paternity in CA
Paternity cases involve unmarried parents. An unmarried mother may seek to have paternity established in order to obtain child support from the father through a court order. On the other hand, an unmarried father may wish to establish custody of his child so as to have the right to be legally involved in the child’s life. Either parent can take legal action to achieve this. Paternity is generally discovered by DNA testing and, where it is established, the biological father may then be legally obligated to pay child support as well as seek custody/visitation rights.
Can Custody be Granted to Someone Other Than a Child's Parents?
In cases where parents are deemed to be physically or emotionally harmful to a child, other individuals may seek custody of the child. This type of custody may be granted to grandparents, other family members or relatives, to a legal guardian, or friends. Courts will need to evaluate any child custody request to verify the circumstances and rule in what it believes to be the child’s best interests.
Turn to Our Experienced Long Beach Child Custody Attorney
Regardless of the nature of your child custody case, whether it due to divorce, paternity, as a third party seeking custody, or in any other circumstances, our firm can provide the knowledgeable and skilled representation you need in seeking a favorable outcome. We will fight for your legal rights and pursue a result that safeguards your future with your child for years to come.
Find out how we can assist you with child custody. Contact Curtis Family Law today at (562) 315-7107.