Are you in the middle of working out a child custody arrangement? Or are you trying to modify an existing one?
Disagreements over child custody can turn into a full-scale battle, one that harms divorcing parents and the child(ren) in question. That’s why
Types of Child Custody Arrangements
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
There are two different types of child custody that will need to be worked out:
- Physical custody: This type of custody controls where and with whom the child lives.
- Legal custody: This type of custody pertains to what control the parent has over the child’s rights and upbringing, such as whether they have a say in their education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, religion, etc.
The Difference Between Sole Custody and Joint Custody
Both physical and legal custody can be split in the following ways:
- Sole custody, meaning only one parent has custody.
- Joint custody, or shared custody, which means both parents have some degree of custody.
Note that joint custody is not always a 50/50 split. For example, joint physical custody could mean the child lives with one parent 60% or 70% of the time.
It is also possible for the parents to be granted joint legal custody but for one parent to have sole physical custody. In these cases, the non-custodial parent will have visitation rights.
How to Win a Child Custody Case in California
To get child custody in Southern California, you will need to go down one of two paths:
- Negotiate a custody arrangement with the other parent: Before taking the matter to court, many parents try to work out a custody agreement on their own. They can then take the agreement to a judge who will sign it into law.
- Take the matter to court: When parents disagree on terms for child custody, they can take the issue to family court. Both parents will have the chance to propose their preferred parenting time plan, but they will not have the final say. Instead, a judge will draft a court order based on the child’s best interests.
Regardless of which route you decide to take, it is best to work with an attorney. This is all the more important when the other parent has an attorney of their own. If this applies to your case, you need someone who understands the complexities of family law on your side.
How Do Courts Decide on Child Custody?
To win your child custody case, you will need to show that your plan is the one that best serves the child. This is because family courts and judges make the child’s best interest their No. 1 priority.
When reviewing a child custody case, the courts consider a range of factors to figure out which arrangement is best for the child:
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The age and health of the child
- The age and health of each parent
- Whether either parent is unfit to care for the child, such as because of a demanding work schedule, domestic violence, or a mental health disorder
- How each proposed custody arrangement will affect the child, such as whether they will need to move, change schools, etc.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Child Custody Case?
Many parents want to avoid lawyers when working out a child custody arrangement, because of the misconception that lawyers will make the process all the more complicated and contentious. This isn’t how it actually works. In reality, lawyers can speed up the process and make sure that your rights and the rights of your child are protected.
At Feinberg & Waller, APC, our child custody lawyers can take care of the following:
- Provide insight into the judge overseeing your case
- Fill out any and all paperwork correctly
- File all legal documents on time
- Gather evidence and character references
- Speak to witnesses who may support your case
- Help you prepare your personal testimony
- Coach you on how to act in court and interact with the judge
In other words, we can help you build a strong child custody case that’s tailored to your unique situation. We can also provide additional support and guidance for divorce cases involving domestic violence, prenuptial agreements, and other important factors.
Contact a Westlake Village child custody attorney online today. We also have offices in Calabasas and Beverly Hills.
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