San Diego Custody Rights Lawyer
Custody Definitions and Rights in California
Going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience under any circumstances, but when children are involved, then it becomes of utmost importance to secure a satisfactory outcome that will keep the interests of the children and both parents at the forefront. Every parent has the right to an ongoing and meaningful relationship with his or her children, including members of the armed services involved in custody issues. With 35 years of proven experience, Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. can advocate for your parental rights and ensure that you will have a fair and mutually beneficial child custody arrangement.
According to California law, when both parents agree, then preference should be given to joint physical and legal custody. However, if they can’t come to an amicable agreement, then the court has the widest discretion possible to come up with a solution that is in the child’s best interests. This makes it imperative for a parent to be properly represented so as to avoid a decision that makes it difficult to be a part of their child’s life moving forward.
- Legal custody, indicating who makes important decisions for your children
- Physical custody, which means who your children actually live with.
In general, legal custody falls into two categories. Joint custody is where both parents share the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children. Sole custody means only one parent has the right and responsibility to make those decisions. The legal custody decision is separate from both physical custody and visitation rights, meaning that a parent can still be involved with the important decisions in a child’s life even when they don’t live together.
Parents with legal custody have the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding school or child care, religious activities or institutions, psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health needs, doctor and dentist visits, sports, summer camp, travel, and residence (meaning they might even have the right to move them out of state or out of country).
The court is expected to make a decision on custody based on what is in the child's best interests. The criteria that a judge will look at when making this decision includes:
- The age of the child
- The health and safety of the child
- The willingness of the parent to be involved in the child's life
- Existing emotional ties between each parent and the child
- Each parent's ability to meet the child's needs (economical, emotional, environmental)
- Each parent's lifestyle
- The stability of environment each parent can provide
- What impact a change in status quo would have on the child
The parent not awarded primary custody will most likely have visitation rights. California has four basic types of visitation agreements:
- Scheduled visitation: The court can work with both parents to draw up a detailed visitation schedule to prevent conflicts and confusion.
- Reasonable visitation: Reasonable visitation is an open-ended agreement allowing parents to work out a flexible visitation schedule according to their schedule.
- Supervised visitation: When a child's safety and well being under the supervision of one parent are in question, supervised visitation can be called for.
- No visitation: If the child's physical or emotional safety is in question, even during a supervised visitation, an order of no visitation can be issued.
The divorce process can be stressful, overwhelming, expensive, and traumatic for everyone involved, especially children. When making such important decisions that can affect the long-term well being of your family, you need to have an advocate on your side with the experience to protect your parental rights. Call Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. at (858) 458-9500 to schedule a free consultation with a San Diego child custody lawyer.
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