Child Custody Lawyer in Oceanside, CA
If you and your spouse divorce, you might be concerned about the custody of your children. Child custody is a legal term used to describe a child’s living arrangements and a parent’s authority over a child after a separation or divorce. Parents’ or guardians’ rights to make decisions on behalf of the children are defined by child custody. A family court will decide on what kind of child custody agreement will be used or needed. The court will determine the child’s primary residence, the visitation schedule that might be used, which parent is responsible for making major decisions on behalf of the child, and how much the non-custodial parent must pay out in child support.
What are the Different Kinds of Child Custody?
There are two different components of child custody. These components are legal custody and physical custody. You need to have an understanding of both of these components because they will impact a divorced or separated parent’s life until their children reach adulthood.
Legal custody – This component of custody gives a person authority to act on the behalf of a child. The parent who has legal custody is allowed to make the important decisions for the child. These include decisions about religion, school, and medical care. Other important long-term decisions are also up to the parent with legal custody.
Physical Custody – This child custody component determines where the child will live and with whom the child will live. The custodial parent, which is with whom the child lives, has the rights and responsibilities that involve the child’s day-to-day care. Usually, the child makes his or her residence with the parent who has physical custody. That parent is often called the primary custodial parent. The non-custodial parent, which is the other parent, has a visitation schedule. The non-custodial parent might have to pay child support to the custodial parent.
Child custody is made up of legal custody and physical custody combined. It is important to realize that parents might share or not share both legal and physical custody. There can actually be different child custody determinations made, such as joint legal custody, joint physical custody, sole physical custody, and joint physical custody.
How Can the Parents be Given Legal and Physical Custody?
The family court can order several different kinds of child custody arrangements. However, sole custody or joint custody are the two options most commonly used. That means custody of the children is usually given to one parent or equally divided between both parents. These kinds of child custody arrangements are applicable to legal and physical custody both. They might apply to just one or the other. As an example, a family court might give one parent sole physical custody then give joint legal custody, which is shared between both parents. It could be done the opposite as well. The kind of child custody arrangement that is ordered by the court is dependent upon the circumstances surrounding your child custody case. With the help of a child custody attorney, you’ll be able to make a strong case for your desired child custody arrangement.
How is Child Custody Determined by the Court in California?
When there is a divorce, negotiations or disputes regarding the custody of the children usually occurs. The family court often decides child custody by giving the child’s best interest precedence. This means that the family court judge will try to determine which child custody arrangement will be best for the children involved. There are few factors that might impact the court’s child custody order:
• The work schedules for both parents
• Where the parents live and where the child has lived
• Substance abuse or criminal history of the parents
• Child abuse history or allegations against the parents
• Abandonment history
• The parent-child relationships
There are numerous factors that the court will consider when determining the right child custody order. As the child custody case is evaluated, the court will use the framework that focuses on the best interest of the child.
What is a Major Decision and What is a Minor Day-to-Day Decision?
When there is a reference to legal custody, it is referring to the right to make major decisions, which means school choice, medical care, and what religion will be followed. Major decisions are not the same as a minor day-to-day decision. When someone is watching a child, minor daily decisions are made. Those minor decisions include what time the child must go to bed, what clothes should be worn, or when to do homework. Apply the babysitter test when in doubt so you can determine if a situation involves a major decision or a minor decision. If it is a decision that the babysitter could make, it is not a major decision.
It is important to differentiate between major decisions and minor decisions because when the non-custodial parent might be faced with making decisions when the children are in his or her care. However, that parent might not have legal custody. Assuming the non-custodial parent doesn’t have joint legal custody, that parent won’t have a role in the major decisions but will be able to make minor or daily decisions.
The Most Common Child Custody Arrangement
If you are going through a divorce or separation and you are concerned about child custody, sole custody is the most common physical custody arrangement. An older study indicates that about 69% of the time, sole custody takes place and about 63% of the time the parent getting sole custody is the mother. When a case goes to trial for a ruling on child custody, the court orders sole custody about 55% of the time with the mother being the parent awarded custody 44% of the time. If the case goes to court for a ruling, joint custody is awarded 25% of the time if there is mediation between the parents and about 40% of the time if there is no mediation and the parents make the decision.
There is a tendency for family courts to award joint legal custody if sole physical custody has been awarded. This gives both parents a parental voice in the children’s upbringing. It is important for parents to effectively communicate with one another about their children’s issues for joint custody to work. If co-parenting can be done between the parents, it is deemed to be the most beneficial for the children involved. Parallel parenting, which is a way to communicate without violating the child’s bill of rights, is a good choice if the parents are in high-conflict. A parenting coordinator might be court ordered in some states if there is a high amount of conflict between parents. An experienced California child custody lawyer can help you make a case for your preferred arrangement for child custody.
Other Kinds of Child Custody Arrangements
There are several other kinds of child custody that are less commonly used in family court. Those might include an alternating custody arrangement, in which the parent lives an extended time with one parent then moves to the other parent’s residence for an extended time. Other kinds of custody are split custody, which means the children don’t live with each other. The siblings either don’t live together at all or their custody schedule gets split so they are not always living together.
Bird’s nest custody is another option. In bird’s nest custody, there is a shared custody arrangement where the children live in only one house but the parents take turns living in that particular house with the children, but never at the same time. Third-party custody also is used in some child custody cases. An individual other than the child’s biological or adopted parents are given custody. This kind of custody usually arises when the family court has reason to believe that neither parent is “fit” to raise a child or if the child has been living with the third -party for an extended time. If a parent is considered to not be “fit,” they might have a history of neglect, abuse, or not be in a situation to provide an acceptable environment for the child. Parents who are incarcerated might be an example of someone in this situation.
How Does Mediation Impact Child Custody Following a Divorce?
Mediation is used in many divorce cases in this day and age. It lets both of the parties in a divorce work out the arrangements of their divorce. This way, the family court does not have to decide. Both parties get control of the divorce decree wording when mediation services are used. If there are problems with the mediation process, it can result in more trouble and cost you a lot of money in legal expenses.
When mediation is used, mothers are more likely to be given sole custody. The parents elect to get joint custody more often when using mediation services. The numbers regarding who gets custody differ significantly when mediation is used in the process. When mediation is used, fathers often decide that they don’t want to fight for custody of their child. It is not known why this happens, but some possibilities include:
• Parents who mediate might have a single California child custody lawyer involved, and that lawyer can represent only one party.
• The spouse who didn’t file for divorce is not prepared for child custody litigation, and mothers do file for divorce. An AARP study said that 65% of the women who ended up divorcing asked for dissolution of the marriage.
• A career-oriented father might decide letting the mother have custody during the week and he taking weekend visitation is the best thing for the child.
• A father might just assume they are not likely to be awarded custody in court, so they agree to settle.
What Issues Should be Considered Before a Child Custody Agreement is Signed?
Before you agree to sign a settlement agreement, both parents should speak with a child custody lawyer and seriously think about the ramifications of the legal documents they are signing. Even if the documents are of a temporary nature. The quality of your children’s lives, as well as the lives of both parents, will be impacted. Of course, it will also impact the amount of child support paid until the child reaches adulthood. Unfortunately, many parents end up making a critical mistake by thinking that an agreement for temporary custody doesn’t carry much weight or importance. Without thinking and considering the outcome, you might find yourself unhappy about the custody situation later. You don’t want to end up in a situation that is stressful, unpleasant, unnecessary, and expensive for litigation. You need to know that often, courts view a temporary situation as the new standard for the lives of the children. A judge can look at the temporary order and see that the children are thriving in that location and decide it is not necessary to move the child to the other parent.
Clauses regarding the relocation of a parent must be considered with care. Experts report that 17% to 25% of parents will relocate within a year after their divorce. One of the leading causes for future court appearances regarding child custody is because of parent relocation. The quality of life for all children involved can be impacted, especially if relocating has interference with the child’s extracurricular activities that peers in nuclear families might be able to continue to participate in.
Joint custody should be taken seriously. It can keep both parents involved in the lives of the children and result in co-parenting. While joint physical custody might not be considered by a parent as a good option initially, it helps to provide some protection for the relationship by keeping a parent from moving to another state. You shouldn’t assume that joint custody means a custody schedule that is always 50/50. It just indicates that neither parent is considered to be a non-custodial parent. If sole custody is awarded, it is wise to consider a relocation clause to prevent one parent from moving away without the other parent’s consent. It’s important to discuss
How Does Going to Court Impact Which Parent Gets Custody of the Children?
Reports indicate that going to court for a ruling on child custody will reduce the frequency of custody arrangements where the mother is given primary custody. Fathers who mediate are not likely to get joint custody or sole custody. In a contested divorce, a mother is much more likely to be awarded custody if the case proceeds to court. The chances of a father being awarded custody of the children are almost doubled in a court than in mediation. If you’re father that wants custody after your divorce, it’s in your best interest to speak with a child custody lawyer.
Will the Mother be More Likely to be Awarded Custody?
U.S. Census Bureau statistics show there is a greater chance for mothers to be awarded sole custody of a child following a separation or divorce. When looking at uncontested and contested divorces, mothers want to be given custody of the children 88% of the time compared to 33% of the time for fathers. Fathers are usually the primary income source and have the tendency to be focused on their careers, so courts usually find that mothers with free time are the best choice for custody of the children.
If you are going through a divorce or facing a child custody battle in Oceanside, California, count on the experienced Oceanside child custody lawyer at Fischer & Van Thiel. We are ready to help you get the desired outcome for your divorce and ensure your children’s best interest are given priority.