Child custody and visitation are pivotal issues that often arise during divorces and the end of relationships, especially when minor children are involved. In this article, we'll discuss the key aspects of how child custody and visitation are handled by California courts and the various options available to parents.
California courts prioritize the involvement of both parents in a child's life. They generally encourage shared custody arrangements, which allow children to maintain strong relationships with both parents. However, the court's stance on this matter can change when allegations of child abuse or domestic violence are involved.
If domestic violence is present in your case, and the court finds evidence of such violence, it may limit or modify your access and visitation rights. If there are no abuse issues, and you and the other parent believe you can co-parent peacefully, you can create a custody and visitation agreement, which can then be filed with the court.
When both parents are in agreement regarding the visitation plan, the court typically accepts the plan, and a judge signs the agreement. This formalizes the plan and transforms it into a court order. In this agreement, parents can address various details, including the number of custodial days or time with each parent, holiday and vacation schedules, arrangements for birthdays, Father's Day, Mother's Day, and more.
As a formal court order, both parents are legally required to comply with its terms. It is essential to follow the court order diligently to maintain a peaceful and cooperative co-parenting environment.
When parents cannot agree on custody and visitation terms, the court intervenes. To initiate the process, one must file a motion for a child custody investigation with the court. After filing, the court sets a hearing date for the motion and refers the parties to a court-appointed mediator. The mediator's role is to facilitate an agreement between the parents. If an agreement cannot be reached, the mediator provides recommendations and creates a report.
Both parents receive a copy of the mediator's report and have the opportunity to voice their objections in court. The judge then hears arguments from both sides and issues a ruling on the matter.
It's important to understand that child custody orders are always modifiable until the child reaches 18 years of age. If you believe that the current custody order does not serve the best interests of your child, you can file a motion to modify the custody order. However, to do so, you must demonstrate a change in circumstances and continue to prioritize the child's best interests.
If you find yourself in a child custody and visitation situation and wish to establish a suitable custody order, it's advisable to consult an experienced attorney who specializes in such matters. An attorney can provide guidance and representation throughout the process, ensuring that your child's best interests are upheld.
If you have questions or concerns regarding child custody and visitation issues, please click the link below to schedule a consultation with an attorney from our office.
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