Child custody and child visitation disputes can be emotionally and financially taxing on everyone involved. Child custody may be an issue when parties are married and going through a divorce or between parents not married to each other. Regardless, a child custody dispute can be incredibly challenging for the parents, who are desperately trying to protect their legal rights.
At the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein, our top-rated Santa Barbara child custody attorney Evan Braunstein will work hard to defend and protect your parental rights. Our unique fixed fee billing structure ensures that we will concentrate on your case, minimizing delays and seeking final resolution as efficiently as possible. Nothing should come before your relationship with your child.
In the most simple terms, child custody refers to who has the responsibility to care for a minor child. In the state of California, all child custody disputes are governed by Section 3020 of the California Code. This statute has many different, important implications for child custody cases. First and foremost, the law makes it very clear that the needs and interests of your child will come before any other factors. California law strives to protect the wellbeing of children. Additionally, the state favors some form of shared parenting. The California Code (Section 3080) explicitly states that the state’s public policy favors a child having a positive, continuing relationship with both of their parents, even if sole physical custody is to be awarded to one parent.
One factor that can make child custody cases somewhat difficult to understand is that there are actually two different types of child custody that can be awarded under California law. The two types of child custody in Santa Barbara are legal custody and physical custody. Additionally, each type of child custody can potentially be split. This means that parents can have joint or sole legal custody and joint or sole physical custody.
Legal custody is the responsibility for making decisions regarding a child’s health, education or welfare. Sole legal custody means that one parent has the right to make these decisions. Joint legal custody indicates a shared responsibility and means that either parent can make these decisions.
Physical custody is determined by where the child actually lives. Sometimes, parents share joint physical custody and the child or children spend a portion of time living with each parent. Other times, one parent has sole physical custody. In these sole physical custody situations, sometimes the non-custodial parent has visitation with the child or children. Other times, he or she has no visitation at all.
All child custody arrangements must be individualized to account for the specific needs of the family in question. This means that child custody can vary considerably, depending on the living situation of the parents. Further, as legal and physical custody are distinct from each other so that, in practice, custody situations can be joint legal/ joint physical, joint legal/ sole physical, sole legal/ joint physical, or sole legal/ sole physical.
Under Section 3011 of the California Code, state courts are legally required to make decisions under the ‘best interests of the child standard’. For parents, this standard will have tremendous ramifications for their child custody or child visitation dispute. To be clear, a child’s best interests and needs will always be the key factor in any child custody case. While the wishes of the child’s parents are certainly relevant to the case, they are also of secondary importance.
Notably, California’s best interests of the child legal standard are comprehensive. It requires state courts to take a look at all factors that may impact a child, and come to a balanced decision, weighing the pros and cons of any potential child custody order. When assessing a case under this standard, California courts will consider all of the following specific factors:
California courts will not apply this standard in a “rigid manner”. For Santa Barbara parents involved in a child custody dispute, that is an important point to keep in mind. Essentially, it means that courts can consider any evidence, positive or negative, that it believes is relevant to your case. As such, it is imperative that parents who are locked in a child custody disagreement work with a qualified family law attorney who can help them put forward the strongest possible case.
Custody and visitation matters include the initial custody determination, modifications of custody and visitation orders, and “move away cases” wherein one parent wishes to relocate to another county, state or country. Our firm has experience handling all of these types of cases. In California, custody and visitation can be modified at any time. Though, any modification must still conform to the best interests of the child standard. Further, if the proposed modification is not voluntarily agreed to by both parents, then the moving party will need to be able to demonstrate good cause as to why the original child custody order should be changed.
Custody and visitation arrangements should be resolved in a way that is best for everyone involved including the children and both parents, and it is always best to try to come to an agreement out of court. Our skilled Santa Barbara child custody lawyer always work to craft creative and mutually acceptable agreements that protect our client’s’ parental rights while minimizing court involvement and the impact on children involved in the dispute. We know that there is no one size fits all solutions to child custody and visitation disputes. Additionally, we also understand the importance of preserving familial relationships. We will work hard to help you and your family to find a collaborative solution to your dispute, whenever one is possible. We are experienced working with child support evaluators, mediators, and therapists. Although we believe that it is best for parties to reach an agreement on custody and visitation, when this is not feasible we will aggressively present your case and protect your interests in court. Our firm will never let your parental rights take a backseat to the desires of your former partner.
At the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein, our child custody lawyer is standing by, ready to protect your legal rights and parental interests. For immediate legal assistance with your child custody or child visitation case, please contact our team today by calling us at (424) 352-8939 or reaching out to us directly through our website. From our office in Santa Barbara, we represent parents throughout the Los Angeles metro area.