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Child Custody

Child custody in california law

One of the most complicated issues of any divorce or other family law matter is child custody. Who will they live with? Who pays support? How much support? Can they be taken away? When can you visit them? All of these are complicated issues that will usually be determined by a judge. It is important to note that these issues are difficult for children to understand. They may feel responsible for changes in the family or that one or both parents don’t love them anymore. It is important to help children cope with these serious feelings and their specific needs. Contact our office today if you would like to learn more about resources available for you and your child. This information is free of charge. You are under no obligation to retain our firm. We want to help.

Child custody and guardianship define the legal relationship between a parent and a child. It does not define who is a better parent or who loves the child. It will clearly spell out residence, financial responsibility (child support), geographic restrictions, and visitation rights. Unfortunately, it is usually these issues that are the most contentious in family law cases.

Child support is “the amount of money that a court orders a parent or both parents to pay every month to help pay for the support of the child (or children) and the child’s living expenses.” It can be defined during a divorce proceeding or domestic violence case. Child support can be requested by either parent. It can also be requested from a judge by a local child support agency that may be representing a child or investigating a family.

The State of California has a legal guideline to help establish the amount of support a child is entitled to receive. It takes the following items into consideration:

  • Income
  • Property
  • Public assistance
  • Number of children
  • Time spent with children
  • Many more issues such as union dues or other mandatory financial obligations

However, the judge’s child support order can be revised later if there have been changes in income or the amount of time a parent is spending with a child. You should have legal representation in any of these scenarios due to their complexity and importance.

Child visitation is decided by a court and the primary considerations are “maintaining the status quo” (the arrangement prior to divorce or other legal proceedings) and “the best interests of the child”. In some visitation cases in California, this can involve a separate attorney or other representative only for the child. There are four specific types of visitation orders:

  1. Scheduled Visitation – a specific schedule of days and times that a child will spend with each parent or guardian. These are usually extremely detailed and incorporate work hours, holidays, weekends, school events, vacations, and other special events. If the parents are able to work such issues out over time, this order may be revised to a Reasonable Visitation order.
  2. Reasonable Visitation – a flexible order which does not specify days or times and gives all parents or guardians the ability to determine schedules with each other. They are less restrictive and are best suited for situations in which the parents can work things out between themselves. If a Reasonable Visitation order is granted and fails, it can later be changed to another type of visitation order.
  3. Supervised Visitation – This scenario presents itself when the court believes a parent or guardian’s actions need to be supervised by the other parent or an outside agency. But it can also be used in situations when a parent and child are still getting to know each other, perhaps after a long time apart. California courts will use supervised visitation in the best interests of the child.
  4. No Visitation – If the court believes a child could be physically or emotionally harmed by having contact with a parent, the court will bar all visitation between the child and parent. Again, this is done in the best interests of the child.

Child custody, support, and visitation are complicated and important issues of family law. Children must be protected by their parents and the courts. Our attorneys have decades of experience in these areas and can help you and/or your child receive excellent representation in court. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, please contact our office today.