If you are going through a divorce or any other family law matter that involves your children, you need to secure an experienced family law attorney. At the Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch, we are ready to help you through this. We will work to arrange an agreement that is in the best interests of you and your children. Let our Westlake Village child custody attorneys get to work on your case today.
Child custody is vitally important
California law extends rights to both parents in the child’s life, and custody agreements ensure that parents remain in their child’s life. An attorney will work to help create an effective child custody arrangement situation that takes your interests and the best interests of your child into account.
There are two aspects of child custody that need to be taken into account – physical custody and legal custody.
- Physical custody refers to where the child will live.
- Legal custody refers to which parent has the right to make certain legal decisions regarding the child’s life, including religious upbringing, education, and healthcare decisions.
To further complicate matters, both types of custody could be broken down into joint custody (shared custody) or sole custody (one parent). In many cases, there will be a blend of the two. For example, one parent may have sole legal custody, while both parents share physical custody. In other cases, one parent may have sole physical and legal custody or both parents could have joint physical and legal custody. Due to the complexities of these matters, a skilled Westlake Village child custody attorney should help with this process.
When one parent has sole physical custody, a visitation schedule will usually be arranged with the other parent. A visitation schedule needs to be drafted before the divorce is finalized.
What factors affect child custody in Westlake Village?
Child custody is arguably one of the most emotionally fraught and challenging issues to handle in a divorce. Considering that this decision will significantly affect the life of a child, there are various factors that the court will take into consideration when making a determination about child custody. First and foremost, the best interests of the child come first. Some of the factors that will be used to determine child custody in Westlake Village include the following:
- The age of the child
- The health of the child
- The emotional ties and/or bond between the child and either parent
- The ability of the parents to properly care for the child (financially, physically, and emotionally)
- Family history of violence and/or substance abuse
- Each parents’ location and the child’s ties to the community, school, and home
Contrary to popular belief, California family courts will not automatically award custody to the mother or father. Additionally, there are several factors that are not primary determining factors when deciding physical or legal custody, including the marital status, physical disability, sexual orientation, religion, or lifestyle of the parent.
Understanding visitation in Westlake Village
In general, even if a parent is not awarded physical custody of a child, they will still have the right to visitation. Visitation rights allow the parent who the child does not live with to take physical custody of that child for a specific and regularly scheduled period of time. Similar to child custody, issues of visitation can be challenging to agree on during and after the divorce. It is not uncommon for visitation disputes to arise, and this could require the court to step in and decide the matter.
Paternity testing may be required
At the Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch, we understand that the paternity of the father needs to b established. This may require a court order. Whether you are the child’s mother or father, establishing paternity is the best way to ensure your rights are upheld.
Custody modifications may be necessary
It may be necessary to make changes to custody and visitations in the aftermath of a divorce or legal separation. Parents must work through the California family court system when modifications are necessary, and our attorneys will handle that for you.
There are various reasons why physical or legal custody may need to be re-evaluated after a divorce has been finalized. Some of the most pressing reasons why there may need to be child custody modifications include the following:
- To meet your child’s needs: In general, the California family court system will not alter a custody arrangement if it is working for the parties involved. If the court determines that a change is necessary and in the best interest of the child, only then will a modification be granted.
- Child endangerment: One of the primary reasons why a court would consider child custody modifications as if the child is in danger in their current situation. This can include danger from domestic violence, exposure to alcohol or drug abuse, etc.
- Physical relocation: The court will consider child custody modifications if a parent is considering relocating to a distant location. Before altering a child custody agreement, the court will look at the motivation of the parent who is relocating, whether the move renders any visitation impractical or impossible, how the child’s life would be interrupted by any modification, and whether or not the parents have communicated to work on the current visitation or custody arrangement.
- Visitation schedule issues: There are times when one parent does not cooperate with the current custody or visitation schedule, and it may be necessary for the court to consider modifying the agreement. The court may consider a change if one parent is not cooperating, particularly after examining the reasons for the current issues and if there has been any communication between the parents.
- The death of a parent: If the custodial parent passes away, the court will need to determine whether or not the non-custody parent should assume custody of the child.
It is time to get help for your custody case
If you are going through a divorce and there are minor children involved, the process can become incredibly complicated. Due to the nature of a divorce and the complicated legal issues surrounding child custody, you need to secure help from an attorney. At the Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch, we are going to help you through this. Our Westlake Village child custody attorneys will work to achieve the best outcome for you and your children. You can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling 818-237-4574.