Riverside Child Custody Lawyer
For couples with children, separation or divorce tends to complicate matters, especially since child custody can become a significantly contentious issue.
If you have been divorced or separated from your partner recently, or are still in the process of divorcing, you need to remember that your role as a parent continues. Of course, if you and your former partner or spouse disagree on the matter of child custody, the law steps in to ensure the best interests of the children are protected.
In the state of California, there are specific factors taken into account when determining child custody. Here, a seasoned Riverside child custody lawyer experienced in California child custody cases can provide the legal expertise you need.
Types of Child Custody Arrangement
Physical and Legal Custody
Physical custody is when one parent is awarded the right to live with the child for most of the time. Physical custody is the type of custody that is most often awarded. However, the court may award joint legal custody with the other parent who is not awarded Physical custody. Legal custody allows the parent who is not awarded Physical custody to join in the decisions about the child’s religion, education, health care and other important factors in the child upbringing.
Joint custody is when a child spends an equal amount of time with both parents. This type of custody arrangement allows the child to spend time with both parents. In a joint custody situation, both parents require a high degree of cooperation and understanding in order to demonstrate the ability to make joint decisions together for the sake of the child. Some courts are reluctant to order joint custody due to the fact that the parents cannot come to an agreement with one another. Critics, however, say that it is best for the child to have one home base, with liberal visitation allowed to the “non-custodial” parent.
A much less favored option is split custody. This is where one parent has custody of one or more of the parties’ children, and the other parent has custody of the other(s). Courts usually prefer not to separate siblings, however, when issuing custody orders.
In a situation when the child’s parents are unmarried, most state statues require that the mother be awarded sole physical custody unless the father takes action to be awarded custody. If the mother is a good parent, an unwed father often cannot win custody, but he will usually enjoy a visitation or parenting plan, with priority over other relatives, foster parents, or prospective adoptive parents.
Determining Factors of Child Custody Outcomes
Child custody involves the care, supervision, and provision of financial support to a minor child.
When it comes to child custody cases, the relevant laws that determine custody and visitation issues in nearly every state (including California) are focused on protecting and upholding the best interests of the child.
Although there may be variations on the definition of the term “best interests of the child” across states as well as in case law, there are general or common sense factors and themes that the majority of states share. Some of the factors the court will consider include the following:
- The child’s age and maturity level
- The child’s health, safety, and welfare
- The child’s wishes or preferences (especially if the child is over age 12), or their opinion on the custody if the child is at least 14 years of age and is mature enough to address the court and state their preference
- Where the child goes to school
- The child’s level of involvement in their community
- Either parent’s ability to care for their child
- The quality or nature of either parent’s emotional relationship with their child
- Which parent is likely to be open to sharing custody or encourages interactions and visits with the other parent
- Whether either parent has a criminal past or a history of domestic violence, sexual, or substance abuse
Of course, children have the right to spend time with both their parents. However, the court needs to ensure the children are safe and properly cared for throughout their lives – which is why there are so many factors to consider in the determination of child custody.
Under the California Family Code § 3020, the court’s primary concern is that children have “frequent and continuing contact with both parents” even when the parents intend to separate or have already separated or divorced. In general, this condition of children maintaining contact with both parents must be upheld as long as it is in the children’s best interests.
Legal Representation in a Child Custody Case
As a parent, you only want what’s best for your children. This is why you need to have the best legal representation to ensure you get your day in court. You need an experienced child custody lawyer who will work on presenting your case in the best possible light.
The court must see you as the loving, honest, upstanding, and dedicated parent that you are – someone who puts their children’s best interests ahead of theirs or anybody else’s.
Like you, the court only wants to secure the safety and well-being of your children, so they need to see how sincere you are in ensuring the same. Therefore, how your case is presented by your attorney and how you are perceived by the court are critical to the outcome of child custody determination. This is why you need to make sure you have a skilled, experienced custody attorney fighting your fight for you.
At Heath Baker Law, our objective is to get the best possible outcome for your child custody case. We’ll highlight all the qualities that make you the better parent to gain custody of the children.
The Complexity of Child Custody Cases
Child custody cases, no matter how complicated, must be addressed to ensure legal responsibilities are adhered to by both parents. The determination of a child custody case answers the following questions that inevitably arise when parents divorce or separate:
- Who will take care of the children?
- Who will provide child support?
- How much child support must be given?
- How much time will the children spend with either parent?
- What will the visitation schedule look like? Who gets to be with the children during holidays and birthdays?
- Would shared custody work in your case, or is your ex-partner ill-qualified to fulfill the role of a parent?
Child custody cases can be simple enough to get resolved in a matter of weeks. Others can drag on for several months, especially when the parents have a strong disagreement over certain custody conditions and their children’s future.
As such, it’s important for you to work with a qualified attorney in synthesizing all the necessary information and be ready to put your best foot forward and finalize negotiations as quickly as possible.
Tips to Win Your Child Custody Case In Riverside
Aside from working with an experienced custody attorney, there are a few things you can do to protect your rights as a genuinely loving parent:
- Try to be on good terms with your ex. There’s no need for you to be friends, but you do need to stay civil with each other. Try to discuss custody amicably to come up with a fair agreement that puts your kids’ welfare first.
- Avoid talking about your ex in a critical manner, especially in front of the kids. Even if you feel strongly against your ex, avoid criticizing them or saying bad things about them as doing so could be seen as manipulative, immature behavior. Avoid posting anything remotely related to your custody case or ex on social media, too. Doing these things can put you in a bad light and hurt your chances of gaining custody.
- Research your state custody laws. Although you already have a lawyer helping you out, taking time to know and understand California custody laws can help you show the court that you are a good parent who deserves custody.
Make room for your kids in your home. Whether your kids are already staying with you or not, you need to show that they have their own places in your home. You also need to prove to the court that you live in a place that’s great for families and that you know how to maintain a clean, safe, and secure home for your kids.
Contact A Riverside Child Custody Lawyer For A Free Consultation Today At Heath Baker Law
The custody arrangement of your children is too important to do alone. Contact the compassionate and dedicated Riverside Child Custody Lawyers at the Law Office of Heath L. Baker to fight for you in court. Call us today at 951-222-2228.