Skilled And Compassionate Guidance In Child Custody Matters
One of the most emotionally charged issues in any divorce is child custody. As a parent, you naturally will be concerned about the future of your children. If you are facing a child custody dispute or have questions about your rights, it is important to seek the help of a skilled attorney who can explain your options and protect your interests.
With over 20 years of legal experience, the attorneys at the Law Office of David P. Schwarz are highly knowledgeable in this area of the law and can handle every aspect of a California child custody matter.
Elements Of Child Custody
The two key components of custody are physical and legal custody. Physical custody describes the amount of time that the child spends with each parent. Having joint physical custody does not necessarily mean that the time is divided exactly evenly between the parents. Often, a child will spend somewhat more than half of the time with one parent, who may be known as the primary custodial parent. Even if a parent has sole physical custody of a child, the other parent may be granted visitation time with the child.
Meanwhile, joint legal custody refers to a situation in which both parents share decision-making responsibilities regarding their children’s health, education and welfare, including issues involving child care, religious activities, travel and more. By contrast, sole legal custody is when only one parent has the responsibility to make important decisions regarding these matters. Joint legal custody is not dependent on the parents having joint physical custody, and vice versa.
Parents who share legal custody have equal rights to make decisions. This does not mean that the parents must agree on every decision. Instead, either parent may make a decision. However, to avoid conflicts, it is advisable for parents to communicate and make decisions together.
Determining A Child Custody Arrangement
Parents in California are encouraged to reach an agreement that allows both of them to maintain ongoing and regular contact with their child after a divorce. When cooperation is possible, they are encouraged to work together to come up with a mutually agreeable custody arrangement. This agreement may be codified in a parenting plan and must be approved by a court to be legally valid.
If the parents cannot agree on custody, the matter will go to mediation, and ultimately the court may need to come up with a custody arrangement for them if mediation proves unsuccessful.
When making custody determinations, a judge will use the ‘best interest of the child’ standard. Under California law, courts have broad discretion, and a judge may consider any factor that may be relevant to the health, safety and welfare of the child, as well as the benefit to the child from retaining frequent and ongoing contact with both parents.
Contact Us To Discuss Your Legal Options
Making the decision to seek a divorce is never easy, and it may be even more difficult when children are involved. If you expect to become involved in a custody or visitation dispute, contact the Law Office of David P. Schwarz today. We can examine the facts of your case and protect your rights as a parent every step of the way. To schedule your initial consultation, call us at 949-296-4119 or send us an email.