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Experienced Child Custody Lawyers in San Diego, California

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Understanding the Child Custody Process in San Diego

In California, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. The court may consider several factors, including the child’s age, health, emotional ties to each parent, and the ability of each parent to care for the child.

Child custody disputes are where a majority of family law battles are fought and it is critical that you are fully prepared for that battle. Working with an experienced divorce and family law attorney at Fair Cadora can help you navigate the process to ensure the best interests of your children are accounted for.

Child Custody Laws in California

Custody laws in California recognize that both parents have the right to share in the care, custody, and control of their children. When making a determination, the court considers several factors. The court may also consider the child’s preference if they are of sufficient age and maturity to make a reasoned decision.

In California, parents may also agree on a parenting plan outside of court, which can outline the specifics of custody and visitation. This can be achieved through direct negotiations, the use of a mediator, or attorney-to-attorney negotiation. We encourage this cooperative approach, whenever feasible, because it allows clients to retain the greatest degree of control over the outcome and allows the parents to decide what is best for their own children and family, rather than delegating that decision to strangers. If an agreement is reached, a written stipulation can be signed by both parents and the judge to create an enforceable court order that is just as legally enforceable as one could obtain in a contested custody hearing. However, if reaching an agreement is not possible, we know how to approach these delicate issues effectively in court.

It is important to note that custody arrangements can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a parent relocating or a change in the child’s needs.

When determining the best interests of a child, the judge will consider, among other factors:

Types of Child Custody in California

There are two types of custody in California, legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions for the child, such as those related to education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody refers to where the child will live.

Parents may have joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. Joint custody means that both parents share custody and decision-making responsibilities for the child. Sole custody means that one parent has the child and decision-making responsibilities for the child.

Filing For Custody in San Diego

When filing for custody in California, there is a petitioner and a respondent. The petitioner is the person who began the case by filing the first court forms and the respondent responds to the first court forms.

Filing involves the following steps:

It is important to note that filing for custody does not legally separate you from the other parent in the event you are married. A legal separation or divorce is a separate process from fighting for custody.

The custody process in California can be complicated, and when your children are involved it is more important than ever to not skip steps or show up unprepared. Working with an experienced child custody attorney in San Diego is the best approach to getting a successful arrangement determined.

Modifying a Child Custody Agreement in San Diego

If there has been a significant change in circumstances since the initial custody order was made, you may be able to modify custody in California. Here are the steps to modify custody:

We recommend seeking the advice of an experienced family law attorney to assist you with the process, as custody cases can be complex and emotionally charged. San Diego’s trusted child custody attorneys at Fair Cadora are prepared to help you petition, respond, or modify your child custody agreement.

Schedule a Case Evaluation with Our Expert San Diego Child Custody Attorneys

At Fair Cadora we offer a case evaluation for potential new clients to help take some of the pressure off the custody process. We like for our potential new clients to get to know us and get a feel for our practice, so they can feel confident with our representation. If you’re facing a child custody issue and not sure where to start, contact one of our experienced San Diego child custody attorneys to schedule a consultation.

Request Case Evaluation

At Fair Cadora, we understand that family law cases can be overwhelming and stressful. The attorney you choose can make or break your case. That’s why we offer a paid strategy session to all potential clients. We want you to have the chance to connect with us and gain your trust, while receiving valuable advice and insight about your situation. During a strategy session, we will review the details of your case and provide you with an honest assessment of your legal options. The quality of our work and advice during a strategy session will allow you to make an informed decision about the next steps in your case and assess if it feels like a fit for us to work together. The first step is to request a case evaluation.

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A man is holding a baby in his arms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Child custody decisions in California are based on the best interests of the child. Factors considered include each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the child’s health and safety, among other practical considerations like the distance between the parents’ respective homes, each parent’s work schedule, etc.  The tricky thing is that sometimes each parent has a different view of what is in the child’s best interest, and a judge may have a third view.  It is important to seek expert legal advice on how best to approach your request.

Yes, in certain circumstances. Grandparents, stepparents, or other relatives may petition for custody or visitation with a child.

Custody orders can be modified by the filing of a post-judgment Request for Order or by a written stipulation (agreement). Both parents must agree on the modification, or the requesting parent must demonstrate to the court that the change serves the child’s best interests.

Court-connected mediation through Family Court Services, now called child custody recommending counseling, is often required before a custody case goes to court. A neutral third party helps parents reach an agreement on custody and visitation. If an agreement is reached, it is submitted to the court for approval. If not, the case proceeds to a court hearing. In San Diego County, if the parents do not reach an agreement in child custody recommending counseling, the counselor/mediator makes a written recommendation to the judge about what parenting plan they think is in the best interest of the child.

Under California law, there is no age at which a child has sole decision-making power over where or with whom they live. However, once a child is 14 years or older, and the court receives information the child wishes to be heard as to their preference on a parenting schedule, the court will often arrange for the child’s preference to be taken into consideration in some fashion, as a factor among others. This is a delicate issue about which you should seek legal advice.