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Child Custody

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Fresno Child Custody Attorneys

Fighting to Protect Your Right to Custody 

Child custody is often one of the most heated issues when it comes to divorce and family law disputes. This is due to the fact that it impacts the relationship between a parent and their child. While some parents are able to come to their own child custody agreements, others end up in what can turn into harsh courtroom battles. Whichever type of situation you are in, you need strong and knowledgeable legal counsel by your side to help you protect both your rights as a parent and the well-being of your children. 

Call the experienced Fresno child custody attorneys at Arnold Law Group, APC. We can be reached at (559) 900-1263 or right here online.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Child Custody?

The law does not require you to work with an attorney on your child custody case, or any other aspect of a divorce. However, custody cases—like much else in a divorce, may come down to which side shows greater attention to detail, who is able to better gather the evidence they need, and who understands what forms of argument are more likely to produce a favorable outcome. With over 30 years of combined experience, the team at Arnold Law Group, APC, can be a valuable asset. 

How Child Custody Is Determined in California

When the court has to make a child custody or visitation decision, it considers a number of different factors. By law, the court’s sole guiding criterion is the best interests of the child. 

To make this decision, factors like these are considered: 

  • Each parent's ability to be the child's caregiver
  • The relationship between the child and each of the parents
  • The child's gender, age, and health
  • How the child would be affected if removed from his or her current environment
  • Whether there is a history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent
  • The child's preference, so long as the child is considered mature enough
  • The physical and mental health of both parents

Our Fresno child custody lawyers are well-versed in the child custody laws of California and the legal procedures in our county courts. We are prepared to guide you through this process.

What Is Child Custody? 

There are two forms of child custody that must be decided—physical custody and legal custody

  • Physical custody governs which parent the child will live with. The parent with physical custody provides supervision for the child and takes care of his or her day-to-day needs. 
  • Legal custody governs the parent's right to make key decisions that affect the child's life, such as decisions about where the child will go to school or what type of medical care he or she will receive. 

Furthermore, each of these forms of custody may be granted in different ways. There can be sole custody or joint custody

  • Sole custody means that one parent has primary authority and responsibility. 
  • Joint custody means the parents share authority and responsibility equally. 

How custody is divided can be different for each case. For example, it’s not uncommon for a court to award sole physical custody (the child stays primarily with one parent), while allowing for joint legal custody (the parents have an equal say in important decisions regarding the child’s life). Any possible combination is possible depending on the circumstances.

Get the legal counsel you need by calling Arnold Law Group, APC, at (559) 900-1263 today.

Who Has Custody of a Child if There Is No Court Order?

One of the most common questions from separating couples is, "Who has custody of our kids right now?" Before a final divorce arrangement is in place, it can be extremely difficult to understand which parent has the legal rights to the children and where they can take them. What’s more, it is a common fear of newly separated spouses that the other parent might take their children out of town or out of state.

It is essential to understand what the law says about this period of uncertainty, to protect both your rights as a parent as well as the safety of your children. 

If there is no custody arrangement, both parents have equal rights to their children. This means no legal restrictions exist on who can take the children or where. The other parent can take their children anywhere, which is not considered kidnapping under the law.

However, you have legal options to prevent this or get your children back. If you are afraid your ex-spouse will take and keep your children away from you, you can file for emergency custody to get an expedited and temporary court order. 

It is best for all parties that, during this time, couples attempt to keep children's lives as status quo as possible without restricting their ability to maintain communication or spend time with either parent. If one spouse acts unreasonably during this period of separation, it can cast that parent in a poor light for the official custody proceedings. 

How to File a Petition for Child Custody in California

To begin your petition, you will need the necessary forms, including:

  • Order to Show Cause
  • Application for Order and Supporting Declaration
  • Child Custody and Visitation Application

You must fill out the correct information on the Order to Show Cause form and address it to the appropriate California Superior Court, filling in your name as the petitioner and the other parent as the “respondent” regarding child custody. 

Next, you will complete the Application for Order and Supporting Declaration, filling out all applicable information, including your preferences for custody. 

Lastly, you will complete the Child Custody and Visitation Application to provide additional information supporting your child custody filing. You must ensure they are processed by the court correctly and that you serve the other parent with a stamped copy of the entire child custody package at least 16 days before your hearing.

It’s a lot of paperwork—and you can also let our experienced legal team take the lead on it for you. 

What Is a Parenting Plan? What Must Be Included?

Also referred to as a parenting agreement, a parenting plan is the schedule parents must follow when they have time with their children. This plan may encompass the custody and visitation agreement. Ideally, parents will work together to agree on visitation or parenting time. If you cannot agree, the court may assign a child custody evaluator to your case, who will recommend a parenting plan.

In general, it is recommended that a parenting plan considers:

  • Meeting a child’s basic needs (love, a healthy diet, medical care, rest, etc.)
  • The child’s age, personality, and life experiences
  • Consistency for the child and a sense of security
  • Vacations, holidays, special events, and other dates

A parenting plan can address both physical and legal custody, as well as visitation time. You can make your parenting plan as general or specific as possible, including restrictions and other details. 

It is essential for a plan to have enough detail to be easily understood and enforced, but to remain flexible enough to adjust to life events. You and the other parent may work with a mediator to guide you through the process, or you may decide to retain legal counsel.

How Are Visitation Rights Determined?

Visitation orders dictate how parents will share the time with their children. The non-custodial parent may have visitation rights in the final divorce settlement. Different types of visitation orders can be issued based on the specific factors involved and the situation of both parents.

In most cases, visitation will be based on a schedule. A detailed visitation plan benefits both the parents and the child, as it creates stability and consistency. There must also be flexibility within that structure. For example, a reasonable visitation order doesn’t include specific details or dates when the child will be with each parent, allowing the parents to work it out among themselves. A reasonable visitation order may be appropriate if the parents are still close and get along well.

Another form of visitation is supervised visitation. Supervision may be necessary if the child’s well-being or safety is a concern when they are with a non-custodial parent. The other parent, another adult, or even a professional agency may supervise the visitation time between the non-custodial parent and the child. Supervision may also be used to build familiarity with the child if a parent has been away for a long time.

Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in California?

Grandparents do have the right to ask for reasonable visitation with their grandchildren. For the court to grant visitation time to grandparents, there must have been a pre-existing relationship between the grandparent and child that created a bond between them. This would mean that visitation remains in the best interests of the grandchild. 

The court will also seek to balance the visitation rights of grandparents with the rights of the parents to make decisions regarding their child. If one parent is against the idea, the court must consider this.

If a grandparent wants to request visitation under California law, they must file a court petition and serve notice to the parents. How a grandparent files this petition will depend on whether or not there is a family law case between the child’s parents. If there isn’t a case, they must start a new one for their filing. If the judge decides to grant visitation, an order will be signed.

How Do I Modify a Custody Agreement in California?

Whether a custodial parent is relocating or a non-custodial parent wants more visitation time, understanding how to modify a child custody order is essential. The court will consider granting a custody modification when a significant change in circumstances has occurred.

This can include the following:

  • A parent moves to a new area
  • The custodial parent wrongfully refuses to give the other parent visitation
  • There is drug abuse, physical and emotional abuse, or a form of criminal activity
  • The medical or health condition of a parent changes

Any change in circumstance or issue that causes instability in the child’s life can lead to a custody modification so long as it remains in the best interests of the child. Either parent can request a modification at any time, but ultimately, the decision rests in the court’s hands.

Call Arnold Law Group, APC, for assistance in filing a child custody modification request. We’re available at (559) 900-1263.

What Can Affect Child Custody?

If a child is deemed mature enough to provide an opinion or make a decision regarding custody, the court is required to consider their preferences under California law. However, the law doesn’t specify what age is ruled to be mature enough, which leaves this open to some speculation from case to case. The older and more composed a child is, the more likely the judge will strongly consider the child’s opinion.

If your child is old enough and has a clear preference on which parent they would like to live with, it is important their voice is heard. A California judge may be more likely to give weight to a child’s opinion if it is clear that they are not unduly influenced by one parent or the other. It is up to the court’s discretion whether or not a child’s preference will come into play in a custody decision.

What Rights Does a Father Have in California?

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding child custody is that the court will favor the mother. California courts do not give any additional weight to the mother or the father. Instead, the court is supposed to make their custodial decision based on the child's best interests. This includes reviewing the employment status of both parents, their criminal background, their emotional connection with the child, and various other factors.

Fathers have the same rights as mothers do. Some fathers may feel that the stipulations surrounding their role limit their rights to custody. That is why it is so essential that fathers take a proactive role in their child’s life. If you want to ensure your rights as a father are upheld throughout the process, retaining a child custody lawyer in Fresno can be vital. 

What Is “Minor’s Counsel” in California?

In California, the court may appoint a minor’s counsel to a child in a custody case between parents. The child’s minor’s counsel will act as a neutral voice, protecting the child’s rights and emotional well-being. It also protects the child from being forced to side with one parent over the other. 

Minor’s counsel must always consider what is in the child’s best interests and only provide representation to the child involved in the case. Separate counsel may be provided if more than one child is involved. Sometimes, the county will pay for the minor’s counsel if the family cannot afford it. In most cases, however, the court will require the parents to cover these costs.

Do I Hurt My Chances of Winning Custody if I Move Out of Our House Before the Divorce Ends?

The court needs to determine which parent is most committed to the children and the family. Leaving early will make it seem as if your own best interests are at the top of your list of priorities, and the court will likely frown upon the relocation. If you need to leave for your safety, such as in domestic violence cases, be prepared to show the court evidence as to why.

Does Winning Child Custody Mean I Will Also Win Child Support in California?

No. Child support is determined not by where the child lives but by the financial situation of the parent caring for them. If you earn a significantly greater income than your ex, do not expect to receive child support payments of any significance. 

Why Choose Our Fresno Child Custody Lawyers?

There are several assets Arnold Law Group, APC, brings to the table. Clients can look forward to the following: 

  • 30+ years of shared legal experience
  • Custom-tailored legal strategies
  • Skilled advocacy that’s focused on clients’ needs
  • Thousands of satisfied clients

Whether you need help reaching a fair agreement with the other parent or a courtroom advocate who can help you present your case to the judge, we’re ready to assist you. 

Protecting Your Child's Best Interests

When it comes to child custody matters, the most important factor is always the well-being and best interests of the child. Our Fresno child custody attorneys are dedicated to fighting for your rights as a parent while also prioritizing the needs of your child. We understand the emotional and legal complexities involved in child custody cases, and we are committed to providing compassionate and effective legal representation for our clients.

At Arnold Law Group, APC, we can help you navigate the complexities of child custody laws in California and work towards a favorable outcome for you and your child. Our experienced attorneys will advocate for your parental rights and work to create a custody arrangement that serves the best interests of your child.

By choosing our Fresno child custody lawyers, you can expect:

  • Personalized legal guidance tailored to your unique situation
  • Thorough understanding of California child custody laws and court procedures
  • Aggressive representation in negotiations and court proceedings
  • Compassionate support and advocacy for you and your child
  • Strategic legal strategies to protect your parental rights

When it comes to your child's future, trust the experienced family law attorneys at Arnold Law Group, APC to fight for your rights and prioritize your child's best interests. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you with your child custody case.

Call today at (559) 900-1263 or contact us online to schedule your initial case review.

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