Calabasas Child Custody Lawyers
Helping Parents and Children in Los Angeles & Ventura County
Custody battles are often nerve-wracking for parents. If you're concerned you may not receive the timeshare you deserve with your child or the other parent actively combats your efforts to obtain an equitable outcome, you need an experienced Calabasas child custody lawyer to help defend your rights.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC, our compassionate family law attorneys leverage more than five decades of combined experience to help clients deal with custody cases. We'll fight to protect your parental rights and your child's best interests in and out of the courtroom.
How Do I Get Custody in California?
To obtain custody in California, a parent must file a custody case with their county court. Parents typically obtain a custody arrangement in one of two ways:
- Agreeing on a custody arrangement. If the parents agree on a custody timeshare, they (with the help of attorneys) can draft an agreement laying out their proposed parenting plan. If a court approves the agreement, it will be signed into law.
- Litigating the custody arrangement in court. If the parents cannot agree on terms for custody, they may choose to pursue a custody order in court. This often involves each parent presenting a parenting plan to the court. After considering each party's case, the court will make a final judgment and hand down a legally binding custody order for the parents.
Courts consider a wide range of factors during custody cases, including:
- The age and health of each parent;
- The age and health of the child(ren);
- The parents' behavior during the relationship;
- The ability of each parent to care for their child;
- Whether other factors, such as domestic abuse, play a role in the case;
- How a potential custody arrangement would impact the child (such as forcing them to move to a different school, community, etc.).
As a parent, you want the best for your child. Having an experienced Calabasas child custody attorney at your side during your case can help you pursue a custody arrangement that enables your child to thrive.
Types of Custody in California
California courts recognize two types of custody:
- Physical custody – Which parent a child (or children) live with; and
- Legal custody – How much control the parents have over their child(ren)'s rights, such as determining what education they receive, their health care plan, the extracurricular activities they engage in, etc.
Parents can split both physical and legal custody in one of two ways:
- Sole custody, in which one parent has complete control of the child(ren)'s physical and/or legal custody; and
- Joint custody, in which both parents have control of the child(ren)'s physical and/or legal custody.
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
Physical custody is what most parents think of in the context of “child custody,” since the physical custodian is with whom the child will typically spend most of their time. Even when one parent is awarded sole physical custody, the court will almost always set a visitation (or “access” or “timeshare;” same concept, different labels) schedule for the other parent.
Legal custody, on the other hand, deals with who will have the right to make decisions relating to the health, safety, and welfare of the child, the so-called “big” decisions in the child’s life.
While a parent with physical custody has the discretion to make day-to-day decisions for the child, the legal custodian will have the right to make more important decisions like what school the child will attend, what religion they will be raised under, as well as important medical decisions. In most cases, physical custody will be awarded to the parent that the child will spend the most time with, and both parents will share legal custody.
Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody
The court may award either parent sole custody of the child, or award both parents joint custody. Joint custody does not mean the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent. In a joint custody arrangement, the child may spend 60% of their time living with one parent and 40% of their time with the other.
Generally, courts prefer it when parents engage in joint custody arrangements. Most experts agree (and the California Legislature has so determined) that both parents should be involved in their child’s upbringing and share parenting responsibilities even after divorce as much as is reasonably practical. As such, the court will try to award joint custody whenever possible.
Some courts will simply state that the so-called non-custodial parent will have “reasonable visitation,” but in this author’s opinion, it is always best to get a detailed and specific set schedule in the custody orders so there will always be a “fall back” position in the event the parents cannot agree.
For example, it's possible for parents to have joint physical custody, so the child spends time living with both parents but only give legal custody to one parent.
How Do I Get Sole Custody of My Child?
In all matters of child custody, visitation, and support, the California family justice system cares most about what is best for children. The court decides this on a case-by-case basis. If you want the court to grant sole custody, it essentially means you have to convince the judge overseeing the case that you are the better parent and that it would be in your children’s best interests to live with you over your ex.
Most judges nowadays believe that shared custody is the best course of action for most children in divorce, so if you believe that sole custody is best for your kids, you will have to convince the court, as well. If your ex tries to make you look bad or attempts to undermine your parental rights, it is best to avoid confrontation. Try to stay calm and focus on the issues you know are likely to influence the judge’s decision toward your favor.
Certified Family Law Specialists
We have three certified family law specialists on our team. A certified family law specialist must pass a rigorous exam, fulfill mandated ongoing educational requirements, been favorably evaluated by peer review, and show at least a five-year focus and proficiency in family law.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC all the attorneys attend monthly team performance strategic planning sessions to execute and deploy tactical case management objectives. Clients receive added value as they are never charged for more than two of the attorneys during these meetings yet the entire team brainstorms on each matter within the firm.
Role of the General Counsel
The office of Feinberg & Waller, APC has a general counsel whose role is to focus on law firm management, corporate governance, and business policy. The litigation attorneys are then able to focus on your matter rather than having to concentrate on running the business aspect of a law firm.
Outstanding National and International Reputation
Firm shareholder, Marshall Waller is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He is also a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. Fellows are recognized as having advanced skills in family law and are recognized leaders in the field.
Our Intake Process helps us determine if we can handle your matter while managing the needs of our existing clients.
Our Case Intake manager will ask you basic questions. Feinberg & Waller, APC limits the number of cases we accept because we’ve found that selectivity advances our commitment to excellence.
After the intake process, we run a conflict check to make sure we have not spoken with the other party in your matter in the past. If we determine that there is no conflict, our case intake manager will go over the range in fees , from our Paralegals at $195/hr, to our Associate Attorneys starting at $250/hr, and our Certified Family Law Specialists (CFLS) starting at $395/hr.
We will schedule your consultation with one of Feinberg & Waller, APC Certified Family Law Specialists. A CFLS has gone through a rigorous process of proven qualifications. If you find yourself in the position where you need to speak to an attorney immediately, you may schedule an initial consultation with Marshall Waller through our "Schedule Consultation" links.