Among the issues divorcing couples must work through, the question of child custody and visitation rights can be one of the most contentious. You naturally feel protective of your children. Even though the family dynamic is changing, you still want what’s best for them, and you are willing to use every legal tool at your disposal to fight for their future. Most likely, your former partner likely feels the very same way. This can inevitably lead to extremely tense and difficult legal situations when married couples with minor children face the need to end their marriage.
Unfortunately, quite often the children are the ones who suffer most as they are frequently caught in the crossfire. At the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin, our family law attorney in Orange County is passionate about helping families iron out the challenges of child custody and visitation in a way that always looks to the best interests of the children first. Even if you’re facing a highly contentious divorce, you have many legal options at your disposal to ensure that your children experience the least possible disruption to their daily routines and standard of living.
It is important to be honest about dealing with the upcoming changes so that everyone affected can prepare as best as possible. By being upfront and letting your children feel heard throughout the process, they will also know to trust you when you tell them what won’t be changing: your dedication to providing for them and giving them the best possible future. Soliciting high-quality legal services to see you through your divorce, child custody, and child support proceedings can be a key investment in protecting that future. Attorney Hollie A. Lemkin and her compassionate, highly trained team of family law attorneys can help guide you through complex and sensitive issues like visitation arrangements or joint legal custody.
Our Orange County child custody attorney is here to help and is proud to represent you in achieving your goals in your family law matter. When both parents are committed to the child’s best interests as well as an amicable solution, we highly recommend ironing out questions of child custody and visitation through divorce mediation. Not only is it less expensive than going to court, but it is also much less traumatic for both the parents and the children. However, if the parents can’t agree and there are concerning circumstances surrounding custody questions, we are just as willing to fight for your child’s well-being in court, if necessary.
Mediation can have many advantages for couples who are able to work through their divorce collaboratively. These include:
In California, child custody and visitation rights can be one the most contentious among divorcing couples. Every custody case is different, and what is right for one family won’t be right for another. Our child custody attorneys in Orange County are here for a free consultation to discuss your options. Contact us today at (949) 203-3505 to resolve your family law and child custody issues.
Determining which parent will get custody of a minor child in a California divorce is a complex matter that takes many nuanced factors into account. The goal is not for one parent or the other to “win” the child custody case but for the court to order a situation that will be in the best interests of the child or children affected by the divorce.
“Custody” can refer to both physical stewardship of a minor child as well as legal, parental responsibility for them. These two ideas can be further delineated, when necessary, by using the more specific terms “physical custody” and “legal custody.”
Legal custody means:
Physical custody covers:
When parents share custody, they must also learn to share decision-making responsibilities in these important areas.
After many California divorces, parents will share custody of their children. In others, however, one parent or the other will be awarded custody. The non-custodial parent (the parent who is not awarded primary custody) will often be awarded visitation rights to ensure that they are able to maintain a strong, healthy relationship with their children even though they will no longer be living together.
The sum total of custody, visitation, and related agreements and orders is referred to as a “parenting plan.” It is often in the divorcing couple’s best interests to come up with a parenting plan in mediation before heading to court, lest their family’s future is left up to a judge they don’t personally know. Some judges won’t even proceed with child custody hearings until the parents have at least attempted to meet with a mediator from the state’s Family Court Services department.
Custody orders can take all sorts of forms. For example, a judge may award joint physical custody because they believe it is healthiest for the child to see both parents regularly but might award sole legal custody to a parent who has demonstrated much better decision-making skills and the ability to provide stability for the child. Conversely, a judgment could be made for shared legal custody and decision-making, with one parent the sole physical custodian because the other lives too far away. Just as every family is different, every divorce will be different as well.
Visitation is the legal mechanism by which the non-custodial parent is granted court-appointed time with their children. This can take several different forms:
The law in the State of California gives judges broad authority to determine custody and visitation. The law simply mandates that judges assign custody according to the best interest of the child. This is obviously open to a great deal of interpretation so that each unique family can be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Some factors the court will take into account include the following:
Despite many people believing that mothers are treated “better” in family court, judges in the State of California are not allowed to show bias or favoritism based on the genders of the parties involved. Likewise, you cannot be treated unfairly in family court for your race, religion, or another protected status.
As with most legal services, the total cost of hiring a child custody lawyer in California can vary greatly from case to case. Some of the most important factors in determining exactly how much you’ll pay include: how many children you have, your city or region, the quality of your legal help, and how many total hours in court will be required to see you through your divorce and child custody hearings. Hammering out agreements about child custody, spousal support, and the division of marital property through mediation before heading to court can represent a significant saving on these costs.
There is no special legal instrument or court form you can use to file for full custody in Orange County or anywhere else in the United States. Each divorce must be processed according to the letter of the law, and every parent has equal legal rights under those laws. If you believe that you should have sole physical and legal custody of your minor children, then you and your attorney will have ample opportunity to present your arguments and evidence to that effect. In the end, however, child custody matters are taken extremely seriously by the state, and all final determinations will be ordered by a judge based on the child’s best interests.
There are many factors that might make a judge decide one parent or the other is not fit to have custody of minor children. These can be serious criminal issues, such as a record of sex crimes or child abuse, or simple, practical matters, such as the court not being satisfied that the parent would be able to adequately provide for the child while the child is in their care due to financial or lifestyle factors. During the course of your divorce and child custody hearings, the judge will take all relevant factors into account before making a judgment for custody. If you feel the child custody judgment is against the child’s best interests or relevant circumstances with one or the other parent changes in the future, it may be possible to work with your attorney to have the child custody order reopened and modified.
Typically, parents with joint custody in California must live within 50 miles of one another. This means you can move up to 50 miles away from your ex-spouse/co-parent without any special permission needed. If you wish to move further away, however, you must notify the court and let the proper legal processes play out. This can result in the existing child custody order being modified or revoked. The judge will take into account many factors here, such as each parent’s means, their ability to provide a stable home, and the resources available in the area the parent is relocating to, in addition to all of the same factors that were considered when determining the initial child custody order.
Attorney Hollie Lemkin is the daughter, granddaughter, sister, and aunt of lawyers. While her family background is impressive, her 20 years of courtroom success speak for themselves—she is an attorney who has put in the work to become regarded as a top lawyer in the fields of child custody, divorce, mediation, and spousal support negotiations. She knows that Family Law is about more than winning. It is about inflicting the least amount of collateral damage on your children and putting your family in the best possible position moving forward. A passionate trial lawyer, she will never back down from a fight.
She is exactly the attorney you want in your corner. Contact our offices today for a judgment-free, no-obligation consultation, and let’s get to work developing the perfect legal strategy to see you and your children through to a better tomorrow.
Hollie Lemkin is the daughter, granddaughter, sister, and aunt to lawyers. She knows that Family Law is about more than winning. It is about inflicting the least amount of collateral damage on your children and putting your family in the most advisable possible position moving forward. A passionate trial lawyer, she will never back down from a fight.
She is exactly the attorney you want in your corner.
Family Law is more than just knowing the law. The best family…