Child custody and visitation can be among the most emotional and divisive issues in a case, so you need a knowledgeable, compassionate, family law attorney safeguarding the interests of you and your children. With more than two decades of experience handling child custody issues, The Law Offices of Alan Shifman will skillfully negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you obtain the most favorable custody and visitation agreement possible in your case.
In some cases divorcing spouses are able to reach an acceptable custody agreement on their own. If you and your spouse are unable to reach an amicable agreement on custody and / or visitation, the court will intervene. Both of you will be required to meet with a court-appointed counselor who will try to help you agree on a custody and parenting plan. These sessions are arranged through Conciliation Court or mediation offices, and are held in private offices located in the courthouse.
Depending on the County, the mediation court counselor will submit a recommendation to the judge even if you and your spouse did not reach an agreement. In other counties, these sessions are entirely confidential and the counselor can only report agreements reached by the parents.
Depending on the nature of the custody dispute, the judge may order a psychological evaluation of one or more family members. The judge also has the option of appointing an attorney to represent the children's interests. If an attorney is appointed for your child, you and the other parent may be required to bear all or part of the cost.
The judge can opt to grant custody to only one parent, to both parents jointly, or, in some cases, to another adult based on the best interests of the child. Considerations include the child's health, safety and welfare, as well as any history of abuse by one parent.
These are the possible outcomes in child custody cases. Remember, the amount of time spent with your children is probably more important than the legal terminology used to describe the arrangement.
Joint legal custody. You and the other parent will share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about your children's health, education and welfare. Such decisions might include, for example, where the children will attend school or whether they should get braces on their teeth.
Sole legal custody. One parent has the right to make decisions related to the health, education and welfare of the children.
Joint physical custody. The children spend time living with each parent on a regular basis. This does not mean, however, that the children must spend equal amounts of time with each parent.
Sole physical custody. The child lives with one parent and the other parent has visitation.
The specifics of such custody orders can vary. For example, the judge may order joint legal and physical custody and name one parent as the primary caretaker and one home as the primary residence. The court might order sole physical custody to one parent and supervised or no visitation to the other if it appears that a parent may present a threat to the child's welfare or safety.
Your custody and visitation agreement will impact the amount of child support set by the court. Child support is determined through a complex process that weighs the amount of time each child spends with each parent and each parent's income.
Child custody and visitation are complex issues best addressed by an attorney who can handle all negotiations and court appearances on your behalf or assist you in this process through limited scope representation.
If you have minor children, reaching a satisfactory custody and visitation agreement is one of the most critical aspects of your California divorce case. The Law Offices of Alan Shifman will work hard to ensure that your custody and visitation agreement represents the best possible outcome for you and your children. Contact him today for a free consultation.