Child Custody & Visitation

Judge's Gavel - Child Custody, Support & Visitation Rights

In the State of California, there are two types of child custody: legal physical custody. These terms refer to the different forms of custody available. Physical custody generally refers to which parent the child will reside with a majority of the time. The issue of visitation is part of a physical custody order. Legal custody relates to which parent has the authority to make decisions involving the child’s health care, education and welfare. The court has wide discretion in making custody orders.
Physical Custody arrangements can be in various forms. The court can award one parent sole physical custody or joint physical custody or the court can issue an order limiting one parent’s visitations to being supervised by a professional supervisor. Generally, the parent who is responsible for the child more than 50% of the time is considered to be the custodial parent, while the other parent usually has reasonable rights of visitation. There are some common visitation arrangements, but they are not automatically ordered by the court. The court generally considers all factors pertaining to the parents and children and then creates a custody order specific to each case.

Legal Custody can be awarded jointly to both parents, or when one parent has a history of abuse, neglect, an inability to make good decisions on behalf of the child or exhibits a pattern of poor judgment regarding the child, then the court may order sole legal custody to the other parent.

When a parent requests the court to decide a custody issue, a motion must be filed, and served on the other parent, enabling that parent to have an opportunity to oppose and present their custody request to the court. There are specific procedural and time requirements that must be observed when filing a motion. If a parent makes a procedural mistake, in filing or opposing such a motion, that parent may prejudiced their opportunities. I have over two decades of experience in handling these matters, and strongly recommend that a parent not represent themselves where they take the chance of making a mistake that cannot be corrected.

In the State of California, custody determinations are based on a wide variety of factors. Child custody issues are one of the most complicated, contested and difficult aspects of a divorce. I have significant experience in providing reliable and straightforward legal advice in assisting my clients in getting the custody orders that they desire.

It is important to note that in California, there is no presumption that the mother will be the custodial parent of the child. It is up to each parent to demonstrate to the court that he or she is the parent who should be entrusted with custody of the children. As your attorney, I will provide strategic advocacy and zealous representation to ensure that your rights and your child’s needs are effectively presented to and considered by the court. My services also include enforcement and modifications of existing custody and visitation orders.

All custody and visitation orders are subject to modification. However, certain conditions are required, and specific procedures must be followed, and pleadings must conform to the legal standards before a court can modify a custody order. I can help clients seek modifications, or I can help a client defend against a modification to an existing order.

Another common custody situation arises when one parent desires to relocate the child’s current residence outside the county where the child is residing. These requests are commonly referred to move away requests. These situations are common in San Diego, especially with the high numbers of military personnel stationed in the County of San Diego. A common situation is where a military member receives orders to transfer to another duty station, and if that service member or their spouse have children with another parent, then a request has to be filed with the court to receive permission to move the child’s residence.

Move away motions require the court consider each parent’s rights, before issuing an order allowing a child to relocate. Each parent has legal presumptions that apply and they have legal rights, but many of these presumptions and rights have to be correctly asserted in court for them to apply. Many times these motions can take six to eight months for a court to have time slot available to hear these motions, so if you anticipate having to relocate your child’s residence, do not delay in seeking legal representation. I have significant experience in handling these issues, and I can assist you in seeking or defending such an order.

Copyright 2016 by Randall A. Dierlam
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