Child Custody Lawyer
Q: What factors do the California courts consider when determining custody?
Courts in San Diego and other parts of California all focus on the same basic set of factors when deciding custody disputes. These factors include:
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s (or children’s) education, health and general wellbeing
- The parents’ respective relationships with the child
- The parents’ physical and mental health
- The child’s physical and mental health
- The child’s established home, school, and community bonds
- The impact on the child of changing the status quo
- Which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver
In weighing these factors, the judge’s focus is on determining what is in the best interests of the child. Depending on the circumstances, one individual factor may weigh heavily in the court’s decision; or, the court may have to balance factors weighing in each parent’s favor in order to reach a decision.
Q: What is the difference between legal and physical custody?
Legal custody involves the right to make decisions regarding your children’s upbringing. This can include where they go to school, the type of medical care they receive, and their religious affiliation.
Physical custody is the right to provide your children’s primary home.
Q: How does joint custody work?
In joint custody situations, each parent retains the right to be involved in decisions regarding their children’s upbringing. As far as physical custody, one parent will be designated as the primary custodian, while the other will have visitation rights. The parents can agree (or the court can order) that they will split time equally, or they can consent to an alternate arrangement. Our San Diego family law attorneys have significant experience helping parents negotiate settlements and fight for child custody.
Q: What is supervised visitation?
Most visitation is unsupervised – meaning that when it is the non-custodial parent’s turn to spend time with their children, they have the same rights and freedoms as the parent with primary physical custody. However, if you have a history of domestic violence or substance abuse, the court may order that a third party be present during your visits. This is known as supervised visitation.
Q: Are there different child custody laws for parents who are not married?
In California, the rules and procedures for determining custody rights between unmarried parents are largely the same as those that apply to married couples during a divorce. In the end, the focus remains on serving the best interests of the child. If the parents are unable to agree on how to share child custody, they will need to file in the San Diego Family Law Court (or the court serving their local jurisdiction) for a final order.
Q: Can a non-parent receive custody rights in California?
California family law allows for non-parental custody under appropriate circumstances. Grandparents, step-parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and even close family friends can all file for custody of minor children.
Individuals seeking non-parental custody rights must follow special procedures and file the correct paperwork to present their case to the court. Our attorneys can help you navigate the process and develop a strong non-parental custody petition. We can help you evaluate whether guardianship might be an option as well.
Q: Should I consider mediation to resolve my custody dispute?
Depending on the circumstances, mediation can be an efficient and cost-effective option for resolving parents’ differences regarding child custody. Mediation allows the parents to get help from an independent third party who is specially trained in conflict resolution. The mediator does not have the power to make any decisions, but rather uses tested strategies to help parents who are on different wavelengths come to terms. Mediation is often preferred for resolving custody matters because it spares the children the combativeness of full-blown litigation.
Contact San Diego Family Law Attorney Richard M. Renkin
Attorney Richard M. Renkin provides experienced representation for child custody matters in the San Diego area. He is also a trained family law mediator. If you have questions about any type of child custody matter, feel free to call (619) 299-7100 or contact Richard M. Renkin & Associates online today.