Child Custody and Visitation
The hardest part of any divorce or break up is how it will impact your children. While both parents love their kids and want what is best for them, it can be hard to reach an agreement over how to parent them separately and share time — particularly when the breakdown of a relationship was less than friendly. In these cases, a seasoned Upland family law attorney can work with you to advocate for your rights and to ensure that the best interests of your children are fully considered.
Types of Child Custody
If you are involved in a custody matter, understanding the legal terms can help you make better-informed decisions as you proceed. In California, there are two types of child custody:
- Physical custody: the time actually spent with the child or children
- Legal custody: the ability to make decisions about a child’s upbringing (education, religion, discipline, medical decisions, etc.)
Either or both types of custody can be awarded to one parent, which is known as sole custody, or to both parents, which is known as joint custody. California law prefers joint legal custody, where both parents are making decisions together about the well-being of their children.
Physical custody is typically shared, often with one parent having primary custody. Joint physical custody does not mean that each parent gets 50% of their time with the child; it simply means that each parent physical custody, with the goal of ensuring that the child has continuing contact with both parents. 50/50 physical custody is more likely where the parents live in close proximity and have similar work schedules.
In contrast, one parent may be awarded sole physical custody if the other parent lives far away or he or she has abandoned the child.
Courts will grant joint legal custody where the parents agree to the situation, are able to effectively co-parent and reach agreements about the children’s best interest, and it is in the children’s best interest for the parents to have joint legal custody. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, are unable to co-parent, or if one parent has abandoned the child, then sole legal custody will likely be granted.
California Child Custody Considerations
In making child custody determinations, a court has broad discretion. The goal in any custody order is the best interests of the child, so each case is reviewed and decided on based on its own set of facts. In California, courts will consider:
- The health, safety and welfare of the child or children;
- Both the mother nor the father for custody, regardless of the age of the child;
- The importance continued contact with both parents;
- The wishes of a child into consideration (if he or she is mature enough to make an intelligent choice about custody);
- Stability and continuity in a child’s environment;
- Which parent is more likely to encourage ongoing contact and a positive relationship with the other parent;
- Any history of physical abuse;
- Separation of siblings; and
- Whether either parent has a history of certain crimes.
If parents develop their own custody arrangement, they can submit it to the court for its approval. California law requires parents who cannot come to an agreement to attend mediation before going to trial.
At all phases of the child custody process, an experienced Upland family law attorney can work collaboratively with you to develop a custody plan, negotiate with your ex’s lawyer, and advocate for your interests. Engaging a skilled attorney can help to ensure that you achieve the best possible result that protects both your rights as a parent and the rights of your children to have you in their lives.
Under California law, visitation is a plan for how parents will share time with the child or children after a divorce or other break up of a relationship. The parent who has the child or children for less than half of the time in a shared physical custody arrangement is said to have visitation. A knowledgeable Upland family law attorney can help put together a detailed visitation plan to help avoid confusion and arguments.
The court must grant “reasonable visitation rights” unless doing so would be detrimental to the child or children’s best interests. In those situations, a court may require supervised visitation. This typically occurs when there are safety issues or if the parent and child need to get to know each other again after not seeing each other for a period of time. If supervised visitation is ordered, the court will generally name an adult or agency to provide supervision during visitation.
If there are more serious concerns about the health and welfare of a child, a court may order that no visitation take place. Because the primary concern of the court in child custody and visitation matters is the best interest of the child, no visitation may be ordered in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse.
Obtaining and enforcing reasonable visitation rights can be difficult without the assistance of an experienced Upland family law attorney. Madden & Associates is highly skilled at presenting the best possible case for visitation for their clients.
Child Custody and Visitation Attorney in Upland, California
Child custody cases require a lawyer who understands how to fight for your rights as a parent while advocating for your children’s best interests at the same time. Attorney James Madden understands this delicate balance and is well-versed in the unique aspects of California child custody and visitation law. He works with his clients to develop a game plan for success, and will go to court if necessary to protect a parent’s rights to his or her children. Contact Madden & Associates today or call (909) 581-8390 for a free initial consultation with a skilled Upland family law attorney.