Child custody involves the legal rights of each parent to make decisions about a child’s life and the right of each parent to live with or visit the child. When divorce proceedings are initiated, the court is obligated to make decisions based on what it believes is in the child’s best interest.
Child custody disputes can be the most emotionally-charged part of a divorce. It is essential that the parents keep the best interests of the children in mind. William D. Evans, Long Beach child custody lawyer, can provide you with invaluable advice how to arrange a custody and visitation parenting plan which is in the best interests of your children.
There are two different kinds of custody in a California divorce:
- Legal custody involves responsibility and the right to participate in making major decisions that affect your child. Examples include decisions regarding health care, education, religious studies and participation in extra-curricular activities. California has a preference for joint legal custody of the children whenever possible. This means that both parents have a say in these issues. If the parents cannot come to agreement, either parent may request that the court intervene and determine what is in the best interests of the children.
- Physical custody determines the amount of time the minor children will spend with each parent. The court will generally assign one parent as the primary physical custodian and award the other parent with reasonable visitation timeshare on a fixed schedule. When a parent is designated as the primary physical custodian, that parent’s home will be the main address of the minor children for purposes of school enrollment, etc.
In California it is required that the parents in a divorce participate in court-approved mediation and attempt to reach a custody agreement regarding the time each parent will have with the minor children. If an agreement is reached, the proposed timeshare schedule will be reviewed and must be approved by the court at which time it will become a binding and enforceable custody and visitation order. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, then the court will conduct a formal custody hearing which can be very divisive. It is not uncommon for the court to appoint a forensic psychologist to assist the court in making an informed decision on the proper custodial placement of the children. This frequently occurs when there are allegations that either or both parents are involved with the misuse of alcohol or drugs or there are allegations of domestic violence or physical/verbal abuse. Occasionally, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the minor children under those circumstances. The fees and costs incurred by a court-appointed forensic psychologist or attorney for the minor children is typically paid by the parents.
Child custody and timeshare are very important issues in most divorce actions. This is true not only because it determines the amount of time each parent spends with the minor children but also because timeshare has a major impact on the amount of child support awarded. Proper legal representation by a Long Beach child custody lawyer can help protect your rights.
William D. Evans offers a free 30-minute initial consultation. After a thorough analysis of your case, he will promptly discuss all of the legal options available to you. Please call William D. Evans at (562) 439-9001.