As a parent, divorce or separation means you are moving forward into a new life and leaving behind much of the past. You want to make sure that your children are a big part of that new life, and that means you’ll need to navigate the child custody process. It’s a process that leads to many questions:
- Where will my kids live?
- What type of custody and visitation schedule is best for my kids?
- What if one of us plans to move away from Santa Clara County?
- Who decides what the custody arrangement will be?
At the Mountain View office of Kaspar & Lugay, LLP we help our clients get answers to these questions. From initial custody determinations as part of a divorce to custody modifications years after a break-up, can handle any custody issue that you may be facing. Our lawyers are known for providing, caring, understanding service to clients while at the same time strongly protecting their parental rights in court and at the negotiating table.
Different Custody Possibilities in California
When discussing custody, it is important to remember that there are two different types to consider: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is related to where the child lives, while legal custody refers to a parent’s decision-making authority over things like the child’s education, health care and religious upbringing.
When a judge decides a custody case, he/she will apply a wide variety of factors listed in California law. Some of the most important factors are the age of the child, the emotional ties between parent and child, the parent’s ability to take care of the child, and the child’s school/social life. There are many other factors as well. The main thing to remember is the judges are required to decide cases based what is in the best interests of the child.
Here are four types of custody arrangements frequently awarded by California judges:
- Joint physical and legal custody: In this arrangement, the child lives a relatively equal amount of time with each parent, and both parents participate in making decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, health care, etc.
- Joint physical custody but sole legal custody: The child lives with each parent for a relatively equal time, but one parent gets to make all the major decisions.
- Joint legal custody but sole physical custody The two parents share decision making authority, but the child live exclusively with one parent. The other parent may get visitation time.
- Sole physical and legal custody: The child lives with one parent and the other may receive visitation. The parent with whom the child lives also gets full decision-making authority. This is the rarest option, because courts generally believe that children benefit from being with both parents.
California Does Not Favor One Parent Over the Other
There is still a misconception that the law might favor mothers over fathers, but that is not the case. The main goal is always to reach an arrangement that serves the best interest of the child. Typically, courts start from the position that children are best served by spending time with both parents, which often leads to some sort of joint physical custody arrangement. If there are reasons to deviate from this norm, such as when one parent is abusive or struggles with drugs or alcohol, that is when sole custody usually comes into play.
Custody Mediation is Required
If you and your ex cannot agree to a custody arrangement on your own, there is one more step you’ll need to take before going to court: custody mediation. Required by California law, custody mediation is confidential in Santa Clara County. You will first take a free online class explaining what to expect from the mediation process. The goal is to help parents reach an agreement without the need to go to court. Everything said in mediation remains private, and the mediator cannot testify in court if your case eventually goes there. If you do not go to mediation, the court can issue a fine.
Many situations are resolved in custody mediation, but if yours is not, then the next step is court.
We Represent Clients Resolve All Types of Custody Issues
Our Mountain View attorneys are able to handle essentially all types of custody cases that arise in California. Examples of things we can help you with include:
- Initial custody determinations, whether during divorce or when parents are unmarried
- Challenging or establishing paternity
- Modifying existing custody arrangements
- When a parent wants to move away with a child
- Interstate and international custody issues
- Custody of special needs children
- Adoption, including stepparent adoption
- Parental alienation and “brainwashing”
- Cases involving Child Protective Services
Talk to Our Mountain View Custody and Visitation Attorneys
Parents throughout Santa Clara County trust Kaspar & Lugay, LLP to resolve even the most difficult child custody and visitation issues. We’re ready to help you, too. Please call 415-650-1322 or contact us online to schedule a meeting at our Mountain View office.