Tips for Preparing for Child Custody in California Court

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmIt is in the best interests of both the spouses and their kids to try for an out of court custody settlement without bitterness or complications while getting divorced in California. After all, you would not want to make things even messier while parting from your partner.

Here are some of those handy tips to prepare for a child custody case if the negotiations on your out of court settlement fail:

  • List down all those witnesses who could be summoned when your case goes to trial.
  • You should follow the orders of the court thoroughly with respect to issues related to your kids, no matter what your spouse is doing.
  • Maintain all the details related to the communications related to issues related to child custody along with the timesharing details.
  • In case your child is not living with you, it is recommended that you personally pick or drop them, every time you meet them.
  • You need to collect sufficient evidence for proving your case of child custody.
  • If possible, try to review the style of your parenting so that it can be improved. –Often the judges make their decisions on visitation and child custody, looking at what is best for your children. It has been observed for instance that when the kids have been staying with their mom since the time their parents separated, judges usually like to maintain status quo for the interests of the kids.
  • You need to behave in a responsible manner so that your kids are safe and away from all types of harm. Is your spouse abusing your children? If that is the case, you need to consult agencies or professionals who are experts in dealing with handling cases of child abuse. Such professionals have the necessary expertise and experience to appreciate your predicament as they are skilled to deal with domestic violence and are the right kind of people who have the capability of safeguarding your kids when the divorce proceeding is going on and also after your divorce.
  • It is a sensible decision to consult an experienced attorney who has the expertise to deal with disputes related to child custody in California.
  • You need to be completely honest with the attorney about your present lifestyle and personal history.
  • If you are unaware about the process of dispute related to child custody, request your attorney to explain it to you.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

What Role does a Child’s Opinion Play in Contested Custody Cases?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

family law attorney Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmWhen a parent couple decides to get divorced, one of the biggest worries is around child custody. In the event that they fail to arrive at a mutual agreement on their own, the court will have to intervene in the matter and the judge would take a decision on initial custody. This implies that at least in the beginning, the court will decide where the child lives and the division of visitation and custody between the two partners.

The U.S. court system is often faced with the challenge of protecting the best interests of a child in high-conflict custody cases. However, lawyers and psychologists have been working together in order to better support the children’s well-being in such situations.

When there is isn’t any visible harm or disadvantage to the child, a court may decide to stay with the pre-existing living arrangements for the child, especially if he/she is fairly young. For instance, if the child has been staying with the mother since the time of separation, the court may decide to make that a permanent arrangement (unless it is proved to have a negative impact on the well-being of the child).

Are the child’s wishes important?

When the contested custody case involves slightly older children, especially teenagers, courts would also give consideration to the child’s opinion. In fact, it is important for the court to duly consider the opinion of a child with “sufficient age and capacity”.

In some cases, the wishes of children as young as 7 or 8 years have also been acknowledged by courts.

It isn’t necessary for courts to interview a child in order to comprehend his/her wishes in a contested custody case. Sometimes, the court might depend on the report submitted by the mediator about their interaction with the child. Alternatively, the minor’s counsel may have made certain statements which could be helpful in analyzing the child’s wishes. Irrespective of the age or capacity of a child, the court isn’t obligated to agree to their wishes. But due consideration is important in certain cases.

How does the court decide whether or not to consider a child’s opinion?

There are usually two circumstances under which the court considers it important to give weight to a child’s opinion in a contested custody case:

  • If it is in the best interest of the child to express his/her preference and also testify it.
  • If the court thinks that the child is of a suitable age to have an intelligent preference. Usually children who are 14 years or above are allowed to express their preferences.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

How Does Having a Criminal Record Affect Child Custody?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm If there are children involved in a divorce and there is a battle over which spouse gets custody of the child or children, then either spouse having a criminal past or record can lower or even completely eliminate their chances of getting joint/shared or sole custody of the child. Also, one spouse can use the past criminal record or history of the other spouse to eliminate their chances of child custody and even rights of visitation. This is permitted by state laws in California under certain legal provisions, hence it is vital that the spouse with the criminal past hire a professional divorce lawyer to help fight his/her case.

Best interests of the child

Section 3011 of the California family code deals with the best interest standard. This section basically deals with what the family or civil courts take into consideration while determining the terms of child custody. One of the main factors that the courts consider is what is in the best interest of the child. So if one spouse has been engaged in criminal activities or conduct in the past this would be a major detrimental factor to the courts while determining which spouse should get custody of the child. The family courts will consider the following factors while determining child custody:

  • Whether either spouse has had a history of domestic abuse or violence towards any child that he is related to by blood, or an adopted child or any other child that is under their care and supervision.
  • Whether the spouse has been violent with or has shown violent behavior towards the other spouse.
  • Whether the spouse has a history of alcohol abuse or any kind of substance abuse.
  • Whether the spouse has a history of criminal activities or malpractices or any kind of criminal conduct or behavior in the past.

The court will carefully consider all these factors while determining which spouse will be granted custody of the child. The above factors also help to determine what would be best for the child and the child’s best interests are always put first to ensure his safety, happiness and good future.

A past history of criminal conduct would include any felonies and misdemeanors that fall under any of the categories mentioned in section 3011 of the Family Code. Custody and visitation rights would be affected based on the type and severity of the offense, time elapsed since the commission of the offense and expungment of the offense. These offenses include sex and hate crimes, child abuse, etc. The more serious or violent the offense the higher the likelihood of the spouse losing custody or visitation rights.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

How To Protect Kids From The Negative Effects Of Custody Battles

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County child custody; The Maggio Law FirmOne of the toughest things to deal with in a divorce is a custody battle. It is hard for the non-custodial parents to stay separated from their children. But more than the parents, the main focus should be on the children. In a state that keeps a child’s preference first before anything else during a custody battle, it is nothing less than a crime to ignore the negative effects that can harm a child’s psychology. Children are sensitive and it is very important to understand how they feel and how they will react to a divorce between their parents.

Keep them away from arguments

As a parent, it is advised that you keep your arguments to yourself. Don’t go into an argument with your ex. spouse if your children are nearby. Your children are smarter than you think them to be and they pay a lot of attention to their surroundings. When they see you constantly arguing and bickering it burdens them with feelings of anxiety and fear. After a certain period of time, the fear converts into anger and they can become a threat to the society. The safety and comfort of your children should be the first thing on your parenting list and protecting them should be your first priority.

Don’t react emotionally all the time

When you react emotionally towards your ex. spouse, you are not only causing him/her harm but you’re also causing harm to your children. Your children grow up thinking you are a “bad” person and sharing the same roof will cause them trouble. Acting unreasonably emotional for no particular reason jeopardizes your position as the primary caretaker of your children. You must keep yourself safe before you can keep your children safe.

Interact with them

Act as if everything is normal and allow your children to adapt to the change. Interact with them as much as you can. Interaction plays an important role in parenting and positive interaction will definitely protect them from the negative effects of custody battle.

Conclusion

Protecting children from the negative effects of divorce is the most important factor during custody battles. Your behavior towards your ex-spouse is very important because your children are watching you and since they are very sensitive, it is crucial to maintain a positive behavior in their presence. Interact with your children and keep them engaged in different activities.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

Post-Divorce Parenting Tips For Fathers

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

fathers rights attorneys Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmPost-divorce parenting fears are not exclusive to mothers. During a custody battle, California courts can grant custody to the mother in some cases, but shared custody is much more common, depending on the circumstances.  Divorced fathers can nevertheless find it difficult to adjust to their new situation.

Here are some tips that will help post-divorced fathers get through the situation.

  1. Create a routine

The most important thing to do is to create a routine where a specific time is allotted for the kids. For the rest of the time, fathers need to keep themselves busy with either work or house chores. Fathers need to remember that their children too are going through the pangs of divorce. Having a routine will help them adjust to the situation in an orderly manner.

  1. Make your child your no. 1 priority

Fathers need to keep in mind that their children come first. Since post-divorce lives are different, it often becomes difficult to keep up with the child’s demand. However, you need the take the time out to listen to your kids whenever they need you. You child’s need should be your no.1 priority.

  1. Share a common ground with your child

As time passes by, teach your children to cope up with the situation. You have your own needs and your children has theirs. Share a common ground where both of you are comfortable doing things together. It could be a small hobby or it could be something related to academics.

  1. Plan activities

Find creative ways to spend time with your kids. It will help you keep your mind off problems and will help you focus on the bigger goals in life. There are fun ways in which you can spend quality time with your kids and such activities will help strengthen the relationship between the two of you.

  1. Don’t involve your child in your new love affair

It’s natural to fall in love again after your failed marriage but introducing your love interest to your kids might be a bit too much. At least, in the initial few months or years after a divorce when your kids are coping up with the situation, it’s wrong to have your kids meet someone who can very well become their mother.

Conclusion

Divorce is a tough thing for both parents to manage. While mothers have their own problems to deal with, fathers often find it difficult to deal with the situation. Maintain a healthy relationship with their kids is the key to fight post-divorce parenting fears.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

When Can A Custodial Parent Move A Child Out Of State?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDuring a divorce, parents need to take extra care when they are making custody arrangements for their children. The arrangements and custodial plan should include important aspects like the child’s health, education and welfare. It should also contain the physical presence of the child within a mentioned geographical location to protect the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights.

So, what happens when the custodial parent decides to move the child out-of-state for a period of time. According to the California law, a parent cannot do that unless he/she has obtained a court order to do so. If the custodial parent relocates a minor child without approval from the court, he/she may attract fine or even jail time.

So, when is it possible for the custodial parent to relocate children?

When the non-custodial parent consents to the relocation

If the non-custodial parent agrees to the relocation of the child in a written agreement, the custodial parent can move the child out-of-sate after a judge approves the agreement.

If the other parent does not consent to the relocation, a co-parenting lawyer or mediator can be hired to handle the situation. And in cases where mediation fails, the custodial parent must file a petition in the court to move the child out-of-state.

When the court agrees to the custodial parent’s decision

California courts will usually compare the pros and cons of moving the child to a different location. It will look at factors like safety, health and development. If the court feels that the relocation will be beneficial for the child, it can agree to the custodial parent’s demand. However, it will also consider the non-custodial parent’s rights and decide if the relocation will have any negative effect on the parent.

In some cases, the court has the right to agree to the custodial parent’s demands unless there is gross violation of the custodial plan. In such cases, the court won’t consider the non-custodial pleas and will allow the custodial parent to relocate.

Conclusion

A custodial parent’s wish to move his/her children out-of-state depends on many factors. The non-custodial parent needs to agree to the relocation and must provide his/her consent on the agreement form before any change can take place. The court’s decision depends heavily on the child’s condition if the relocation takes place. Additionally, the court has the power to agree to the custodial parent and allow the parent and child to relocate despite what the non-custodial might feel.  The laws in California relating to “move-away” cases are complex and it is advisable to seek the advice of a family law attorney before considering a move with your child.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

How Do California Courts Handle Move-Away Custody Cases?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmA “move-away case” involves the custodial parent moving far away from the non-custodial parents which disrupts the custodial agreements established by the court. The distance does not matter as long as the agreement is interrupted.

Move-away cases are hard to deal with because it can be an unfair effect on custodial rights for the non-custodial parent. The request to move away from the other parent can have negative impact on the child as well. Unless there are clear violations by the non-custodial parents, move-away requests by the custodial parent can be dicey situations.

Custody relocation laws

Currently, in California, there are no laws that prohibit parents with sole custody from relocating to a different location. However, custody plans can have specific orders that prevent custodial parents from changing geographical location without the knowledge of the other parent. Parents who wish to relocate with their children should file for a move-away petition with the court. In cases where the judge feels that the child’s life will remained unchanged even after the relocation, a positive judgment will be passed.

On the other hand, a non-custodial parent can relocate any time he/she feels like but without the child. Also, in some cases, non-custodial parents are prohibited from taking their children across the state border without the consent of a judge.

In most cases, when relocation becomes necessary for either of the parent, new custodial plans need to be worked out. The new plans should include provisions for both parents to relocate without changing too much of the custodial agreement.

Mediation

Mediation works best in cases where parents fail to reach an agreement. Move-away cases require mediation because both parents need to be on the same page before new plans can be made. Divorce mediation is important for both parents as it helps improve understanding between them and provides the best solution.

In cases where the mediation does not work, the court orders for a second hearing. It will go through the case and decide what’s best for the child. If the court feels that relocating won’t affect the child’s health or mental condition, it will award the custodial parent the upper hand.

Conclusion

Move-away issues can be tricky if they are not dealt with proper care. For parents who wish to relocate, new custodial plans must be created by the parties or otherwise by the court. Mediation can play an important role and can help parents decide what’s best for their child.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Top Parenting Tips Regarding Teens After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmParenting can be tough especially after divorce. And if teenagers are involved, the task can become much worse. The problem with handling teenagers is that you don’t know how they will react. Since they are leaving their childhood behind and heading towards adulthood, it becomes difficult to understand their behavior. Teenagers who witness their parent’s divorce show a variety of different emotions and it is tough to identify a particular pattern with everyone.

Parenting plans are very important and every experienced divorce lawyer will suggest you to take your time while drawing the best plan for your child. Keeping the following factors in mind while creating the parenting plan will make your teenage children transition from the effects of divorce.

Treat teens as adults

First of all, never treat your teenage children like kids. They hate that! They want to become adults and more than often they’ll show signs of being one. Talk to them directly and give an explanation why you and your spouse are getting a divorce. They may not show an interest but deep inside, they really want to know what’s going on.

Give them space

It is true for both divorcees and their children. Each need their own space and time to cope with the situation. While making plans, make sure you’re not spending too much time with your teenage children. Showing excess interest can often have negative results.

Make room for activities

One of the most important things that should be included in child plans is activities and if you can, try getting involved in them as a family. Take a keen interest in your child’s sports activities, academics and any other thing that your child might be actively involved in.

Don’t discuss issues related to divorce in their presence

Avoiding fighting over issues related to your divorce in front of your kids. Teenagers are prone to psychological stress and trauma if they see their parents fighting. Make it a point to discuss with your ex. things that you want to avoid talking about in front of your children.

Conclusion

Making plans for children is an important aspect of every divorce. In situations where the children are teenagers, more time and care should be taken to make the plan. Parenting plans for teenagers should include a balance of activities that will keep everyone engaged as a family. Also, avoid talking about things that might indirectly hurt them or negatively affect their psyche.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Common Reasons for Losing Your Child Custody Case

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmThere are a number of reasons that could lead you to lose the sole legal or physical custody of your child as directed by a California court. In California, when starting out, both parents have joint custody rights of the child. However, when such an order is contested, you have to provide solid evidence-backed facts and reasons to demonstrate your capabilities of being the “primary care giver” and being involved in the growing up of your child.

Acting without discretion could lead to a loss of custody rights 

A judge in a California court would see whether your involvement in the rearing of your child has a positive impact on him or her. If you are someone, who is an abuser of some kind, someone who rants or loses his temper quickly, someone who doesn’t demonstrate enough interest or inclination to take the responsibility of your child, gets into an abusive relationship before the divorce is finalized or has a new partner with shady history, all these could be used to contest your custody rights or even limit your parenting time to supervised visitation or complete withdrawal of your visitation rights.

You must also demonstrate your abilities to cooperate and work in tandem with the other parent of the child in order to provide the best possible care to the child. You must set aside your personal differences and take active part in your child’s daily life like taking him to scholl, speaking to his teacher’s, taking him to his games, spending quality time with him, going for holiday breaks, even if it means with your ex-partner for the welfare of your child and showing an constantly showing an active interest towards his growth. Also don’t act out in front of the judges, the child attorney, his teachers, playmates, other parents of his friends and stop ranting and fighting with your partner always. Try not to have casual flings in front of your children so that he feels neglected.

Some very specific reasons that could contribute to your loss 

  1. Physical or sexual abuse: One of the most common reasons for losing child custody is to physically, emotionally or sexually abuse or hurt your child. If your other partner can provide enough evidence like a paper trail, circumstantial evidence and witness based evidence; you could lose your parenting rights if the judge finds your behavior and attitude towards your child inappropriate.
  2. Child abduction: Family Code 3048 of the California laws define it. Your actions may be deemed dangerous if you try to sneak the child past the other parent and take hime from one county to another or out of America. He can’t be moved as per your whims. You will have to take legal permission for doing so and provide sound and valid reasons. 

Making false allegations of abuse against the other parent, showing an affinity for substance abuse, trying to interfere with the parenting rights of the other parent could also lead to loss of your custody rights or visitation rights. Take care to act with discretion and don’t ignore the needs of your child.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Issues To Know Regarding California Child Custody and Visitation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmThere are a number of issues that may crop up in child custody and visitation cases not only in California but also other places. Awareness of such issues or how to deal with them will make it a lot easier for any parent to tackle these problems that are bound to come up when a child custody case is being heard by the family law court.

The various issues that can come up range from the child’s preferences to counseling, criminal convictions to the threat of abducting or actually abducting the child, interfering with child parent relation and so on.

Child’s preferences

Under section 3042 of the California Family Code, the preferences of the child regarding decisions about custody are given much consideration.  But the Family Court takes into consideration the maturity of the child, any influencing from the parents, and possible alienation of one parent by the other parent before acting on the child’s preferences.

Counseling

The court evokes section 3190 of the California Family Code to ask for mandatory counseling of the child involved in a child custody case. It is up to the family law judge to ask both or either of the parents to accompany the child to the counseling sessions. The court may have statutory reasons to get the parents counseled as well, either together or separately. Any disputes between the parents have to be resolved for the best interests of the child. Counseling can last to up to a year.

Criminal convictions

Criminal convictions of either parent in crimes related to child abuse will have a significant influence in the outcome of a child custody and visitation case. The guilty parent will most certainly not get the custody, either sole or supervised, of the child in question unless it can be proven that the child will not come to any harm.

Any other criminal offence other than child abuse such as substance abuse or use of violence, will elicit the same response from the family court. The criminal history of the offender does not matter as much as the details of the present case. The matter of sole custody is out of the question but joint legal and physical custody may be granted.

Consult a practicing lawyer experienced in California family law. Child custody cases need strategizing and a professional lawyer will successfully guide you through this.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

 
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