The Law Offices of Amy M. Montes represent families throughout Orange County in child custody matters, working to come up with creative solutions that fit you and your family. Attorney Amy M. Montes takes a holistic approach to divorce, child custody, and family law matters, and she understands that different situations require different types of representation. She works to balance aggressive representation with creative, balanced resolutions so that you and your family can come to the best possible agreement.
Whether you are seeking a new child custody order, need to modify an existing order, or have questions about the legal process, The Law Offices of Amy M. Montes can help. Attorney Montes leverages her sophisticated understanding of courtroom procedures and her dispute resolution experience when handling child custody cases, evaluating every detail to design the best course of action. Call 714-731-8600 or contact The Law Offices of Amy M. Montes online to schedule a free child custody consultation today.
Child Custody & California Law
Under California law, judges grant custody according to the “best interests of the child.” No matter the age or sex of the child, California courts do not automatically grant custody to either the mother or the father. Also, the court cannot deny your right to custody based on physical disability, different lifestyles, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or the fact that you were never married to the other parent.
Every custody arrangement is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the court will always look to decide in the best interests of the child.
Determining the child’s best interests can be complicated, and it takes a number of factors into consideration, including:
- The child’s age
- The child’s health
- The child’s ties to school, home, and his or her community
- The emotional ties between the parents and the child
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child
- Any history of family violence
- Any history of substance abuse
The court can also award custody to someone other than the parents if giving custody to one of the parents would harm the children, commonly known as “guardianship.”
In certain cases, parents are able to come up with a workable custody/visitation agreement without the help of a court order. However, if one parent fails to follow the agreement, the court cannot enforce it unless it is a legally binding parenting agreement. Therefore, even if both parents agree on what is best for the child, it is in the best interest of both parents to work out a parenting plan and have it signed by a judge.
If both parents cannot agree on what is best for the child, it may help to sit down with a mediator to work out disagreements and come up with a solution that appeases both parties. If the parents are still unable to agree, they can take the case to family court and have a judge make the final ruling. (However, keep in mind that going to court does not always bring about the best resolution; a family court judge will not understand the nuances of your situation as well as you and the other parent will.)
Types of Custody Arrangements
There are two types of child custody under California law: legal and physical custody.
Legal custody is the ability to make important decisions about the child’s life, such as schooling, doctors, religion, extracurricular activities, vacation, summer camps, sports, travel. If parents share legal custody, they both have the right to make decisions about the child’s life—but they don’t have to agree on every decision. However, to avoid conflict and avoid going back to court, it is important for both parents to communicate and cooperate in decision-making. There are two main types of legal custody:
- Joint legal custody, in which both parents share the right and responsibility of making important decisions for the child’s life
- Sole legal custody, in which only one person has the right and responsibility of making important decisions for the child’s life
Physical custody deals with where the child will live. The types of physical custody include:
- Joint physical custody, which allows the child to live with both parents
- Sole/primary physical custody, in which the child lives with one parent most (or all) of the time
It is common for judges to award joint legal custody, even when awarding sole primary custody, so that both parents can continue to make decisions about the child’s life. In many cases, both parents will have legal custody, one parent will have physical custody, and the other parent will have visitation rights. However, these arrangements are determined on a case-by-case basis; depending on the factors in your situation, it may be appropriate for one parent to have legal and physical custody.
Reunification counseling can be extremely valuable for parents who have not been involved with their children for extended periods of time. This legal avenue gives parents a chance to develop and nurture their relationship with the children, while also moving toward establishment of parental rights.
Contact An Orange County Child Custody Attorney
The Law Offices of Amy Montes are committed to helping you through all family law matters. We provide thorough, experienced representation for parents seeking a new custody order, grandparents seeking custody or visitation for grandchildren, or parents seeking a custody modification. Attorney Montes is committed to finding the best course of action for your unique situation, and we will pursue every legal avenue to give you the best chance of success.
Whether you’re ready to pursue mediation, litigation, or something else entirely, we have the experience and resources to help. You can count on the Law Offices of Amy Montes to find a personalized solution for you and your family’s legal needs, no matter the situation. Call The Law Offices of Amy Montes at 714-731-8600 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our Orange County child custody attorney today.