Having an Understanding Child Custody Attorney On Your Side Makes All the Difference
When your family is going through a divorce or legal separation, every immediate family member becomes involved. The divorce process is difficult for spouses, but it’s especially hard on children. They may not fully comprehend the reasons for the separation – all they know is that things are changing. When both parents desire custody over the children, if they can’t come to a reasonable agreement on their own it often has to be resolved in court. This is where having a compassionate and highly skilled child custody lawyer can come in.
Family law attorney Ernest A. Casacca is committed to improving the lives of children and their families through skillful and assertive legal representation. He understands divorce puts a strain on relationships, and he pushes hard for efficient, positive outcomes.
Child Custody Laws in California
You want what’s best for your children. Luckily, California laws are set up to provide for a child’s best interest in the event of a divorce or separation. In California, there are two types of custody:
Legal custody encompasses all decisions made for the child, including welfare, education, healthcare and childcare, and can include other aspects such as religious teachings and involvement in sports. Legal custody may be granted jointly or solely, depending on the family’s unique situation. Parents who are awarded joint custody both have the right to input about these aspects of their child’s life.
Physical custody dictates who the child or children will live with full time. It doesn’t always mean children will spend exactly half of their time with each parent. Like legal custody, physical custody can also be granted jointly or solely, with visitation rights typically outlined in cases of sole custody.
A judge can sometimes award joint legal custody but not joint physical custody. Sometimes parents are given both joint legal and physical custody. Every family is different, and as a result every decision regarding child custody is as well.
Determining Child Custody
Courts do not automatically grant custody to either the father or the mother. Instead, a judge must make a decision based on what will provide for the best interest of the child. Several factors will be considered when creating a child custody order. The court may address the child’s age and health, the parents’ ability to care for the child, the emotional ties the child has to each parent, the ties the child has to school and the community, and whether or not there has been a history of violence or substance abuse within the household. If granting even limited custody to either parent would likely result in harm to the children, the court may decide to give custody to a third party (guardian).
Child custody orders are independent from child support orders, which may also be granted to a parent depending on the situation. They are related, however, and the amount of child support granted is partially determined on how much time each parent spends with the children.
Parents who have their children less than full time are usually granted visitation rights. Also called time-share, visitation plans are varied based on what will suit the best interests of the children, the parents’ situation, and many other factors. Visitation can be set according to a detailed schedule to help prevent conflicts and confusion. These schedules can be worked around certain holidays or special occasions, such as birthdays or Father’s Day.
Reasonable visitation, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily work according to a schedule, and may benefit families in which the parents still interact on an amicable level. Reasonable visitation allows the parents a more open-ended approach so they may work things out in detail with one another.
If a child’s safety is in question when visiting with a parent, supervised visitation may be ordered. The visitation may be supervised by the other parent, another adult, or a professional agency. Supervised visitation can also be used in cases where one parent has not spent much time in the child’s life, and the child needs time to become acquainted with him or her.