Fresno Child Custody Lawyer Helping You in Your Custody Case
When parents are no longer together, who their child or children live with the majority of the time is a big question. Often, both parents would like to have full custody of their children, and coming to a compromise can be a difficult process. Everyone involved wants what is best for the children, but there can be disagreements about what that means. Whether your children would be better off with one parent most of the time or in a joint custody arrangement with shared time between the two homes is a complicated decision.
If you and your co-parent cannot work out a mutually-agreeable arrangement for custody and parenting time, the courts will have to decide who will have custody or whether it will be shared. The assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced child custody lawyer is crucial for ensuring that your child custody case has the best outcome possible for you and your children. Call Bains Law Offices in Fresno today at 559-890-1007 to talk about getting a skilled lawyer on your side in your custody case.
What is Physical Custody?
Physical custody refers to the time that a child is in one particular parent’s care. A parent can have sole physical custody, meaning that the child spends all of his or her time with that parent and the other parent may have limited times for visitation but does not live with the children, or joint physical custody, meaning that the child spends roughly equal time living with each parent. The time in each household does not have to be exactly equal in California, but significant amounts of time must be spent with each parent, and the time must be close to equal.
What is Legal Custody?
Legal custody refers to the ability of a parent to make choices for their children, such as decisions around schooling, medical care, and religious upbringing, for example. Like physical custody, legal custody can be sole or joint. If parents have joint legal custody, regardless of who has physical custody, each parent has an equal right to make decisions about the child’s life. It is common for parents to retain joint legal custody, even when one of them has sole physical custody of their children. In joint legal custody situations, either parent can make decisions about their children without the agreement of the other.
What Are the Steps for Determining Child Custody?
One way to determine child custody is for the parents to agree on the terms of parenting time and decision-making. If the parents are in agreement and both stick to that agreement, no court order is needed. These contracts are difficult to enforce, however. In cases where the parents cannot come to a mutually-agreeable plan for custody of their children, or want an enforceable order in case one parent does not comply, the court must be consulted. In determining child custody, the court must do what is in the best interest of the child.
The first step required in California is to meet with a mediator who will help parents come to an agreement that both can live with. If this proves impossible, the custody mediator can give a written suggestion to the court as to what they believe is the best parenting plan, considering the age and health of the child, the child’s emotional ties to each parent as well as to school and community, the ability of each parent to care for the child, and any history family violence or substance abuse, among other factors.
What if the Other Parent Refuses to Pay Child Support?
There are legal consequences for not paying court-ordered child support; however, the payment or non-payment of support does not affect custody. These are two separate court orders. Therefore, non-payment of child support does not allow a parent to keep the child from the other parent during times that they are guaranteed under the terms of the child custody order. In such cases, the parent who is owed child support can ask for a modification of the custody order, which may or may not be granted by the judge.
Custody issues are some of the most complicated parts of any family dispute. Nothing is more important than making sure that your children’s interests and rights are protected. Call Bains Law Offices today at 559-890-1007 for experienced and caring legal counsel from one of our child custody lawyers to help you through your custody case.