Child Custody Law Attorneys - Lawyers in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange County
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Child Custody Attorneys in
Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino

One of the main contested issues in a divorce case is the custody of minor children (those under 18 years of age). Before the parties separated, each parent enjoyed full custody of the minor children. Consequently, there was no issue as to who was the parent. Up to that point, the parties had been sharing the responsibility of raising the children and scheduling extracurricular activies with them at any time they chose. After separation, custody of the minor children is divided between the parents in either a 60/40 time share, 50/50 time share, or it could be divided on some other percentage basis. The parties can agree to an appropriate time share by stipulation and a court order or the court will set an appropriate time share that is in the "best interest of the children."

The "best interests" standard is a very subjective test. It is almost impossible for the court to truly know what is in the best interest of the minor children. If the parents cannot decide, and they raised the children, it is that much more difficult for the court to make such a finding. Nevertheless, in making this determination, the court will look at such things as who spent more time with the children, who bathed them, took them to school, helped with school work, cooked them dinner, etc. Also, depending on the age and maturity of the child the court will consider the child's preference.

The care and upbringing of children following divorce is often an ongoing source of conflict for divorcing parents and will consequently lead to numerous requests for modification of custody orders. Child custody must address both physical custody, or the rights and responsibilities regarding the day-to-day care and activities of their children and legal custody, or the legal rights and responsibilities associated with the child's upbringing, which includes education, religion, school, and extra-curricular activities. Courts are favoring joint legal and joint physical custody and the sharing of ongoing child rearing responsibilities, with the children residing where it is most practical and where they will flourish best.

Divorcing couples often tackle custody and visitation issues as soon as they separate. Courts generally honor any custody agreements divorcing parents reach regarding their children. When custody is contested, most courts will require parents to participate in a mandatory mediation session. If mediation is unsuccessful, the court will determine custody. Though rules differ from state to state, most courts generally reach decisions about custody and visitation after considering what arrangement will serve the best interests of the child.

Except when parties agree otherwise, courts often impose standard visitation and custody orders. A typical visitation schedule allows a non-custodial parent to see the children one night a week, every other weekend and some portion of school and summer holidays. In order to change a court-ordered custody and visitation scheme the parent seeking the modification must show a substantial change in circumstances once there has been a final order. Some states will only consider a request for modification within two years of an original custody determination if there is a showing that the child is endangered by the current arrangement. In order to prevent parents from shopping for friendly rulings in different states, some states will only consider custody-related requests if the child has been a resident of the state for six months or longer.


For more information and a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys call us at 1-800-589-9901.
Serving Orange County, San Bernardino, and Riverside.

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