Divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences in a person’s life. If children are involved in a divorce, dealing with all the emotions can be even more challenging. At Moshtael Family Law, we understand the emotional turmoil you might go through when fighting for your children’s custody.
Our knowledgeable San Diego child custody and visitation attorneys will give your case the attention it needs and deserves. We have over 185 years of combined experience handling all types of family law cases, and we can help you determine the best approach for your case.
Our custody lawyers in San Diego have connections with skilled therapists who can help you with the emotional struggles you might face during your divorce and the child custody process. If required, we can offer you a free hour of therapy with one of our recommended therapists.
We will also educate you on what to expect in court and what's considered legal and appropriate. Our goal is not just to help you win your child custody or visitation case, but also to ensure you're fully prepared and informed to make the best decisions for your family.
San Diego has primarily two types of custody: "legal" and "physical" custody.
When you have "legal custody," it means you have the right to make all major decisions about your child's health, education, and overall welfare. Some examples of these significant decisions include:
Joint legal custody in San Diego means that both parents share the responsibility and right to make important decisions regarding the child's health, education, religious upbringing, and overall welfare. This type of custody is fairly common in San Diego. Based on this, joint legal custody is not the same as joint physical custody. Usually, both parents have joint legal custody unless one of these conditions exists:
The term "sole legal custody" refers to a scenario in which one parent has the exclusive right to make key decisions involving their child's general welfare, health, and education, without the other parent's involvement. Pertaining to this, exclusive legal custody does not necessarily mean the same parent will be granted sole physical custody.
Physical custody means the place where a child will reside after a separation or divorce. Physical custody differs considerably from legal custody. The parent with physical custody is entitled to the child's physical presence in the home. If a child lives with one parent solely or predominantly, that parent is typically called the "residential" or "custodial" parent. The other parent is the "nonresidential" or "noncustodial" parent and has visitation privileges.
When determining how custody division should occur and whether the parents should be granted visitation rights, the judge in San Diego must first evaluate what is in the child's best interests. For example, if one of the parents has a history of abuse or domestic violence, the judge may rule that the noncustodial parent only has supervised visits with the child.
In "Joint physical custody," both parents share more extended periods of physical custody, and the child spends time equally, or close to equal, between their parents.
In "Sole physical custody," a child lives with one parent and gets visitation time with the other based on the court's authority to order it.
When the judge awards one of the parties sole physical custody, it will generally include a detailed visitation schedule to ensure the child gets adequate time with the noncustodial parent. A shared calendar could include extended visitation during the summer, splitting school vacations and holidays, alternating weekend overnight visits, and extended visitation during the summer.
In addition, visitation schedules often include pick-up and drop-off times and locations and an allocation of specified parental duties for transportation (which of the parents will drop off and pick the child up). The parents can decide which schedule works best for them and the child. If the judge determines it’s in the child's best interest, they will approve it.
If the noncustodial parent has a history of being abusive or absent, the court may allow them only supervised parenting time. The judge will assign a visitation supervisor to the family. The parent may have to visit with the child at a location approved by the court instead of the parent's residence. Depending on the situation, the court might put more conditions along with supervised visitation in place.
The judge may award only supervised parenting time if there is a history of absence or abuse by the noncustodial parent. The court will assign the family a visitation supervisor and may require the parent to visit with the child at a court-approved location rather than the parent's residence. The judge may award supervised visitation with/without other restrictions based on the case.
For instance, if the courts grant supervised visitation to a parent with a history of alcohol or drug abuse, they may also order that the parent attend meetings or outpatient treatment or therapy before considering whether to permit them unsupervised visitation. In certain extreme cases, the judge may rule that it’s best to keep the child from visiting the abusive parent entirely.
The judge will always prioritize the child's best interest in all child custody cases. Therefore, all visitation, custody, and physical orders are based on this premise. In deciding on what is best for your child, the judge will consider factors such as:
San Diego custody law also permits the judge to consider a child's opinion on the custody matter (initial determination/modification). If the child is 14 years old and above, they are considered mature enough to express their preferences, and the presiding judge will accord significant consideration to the expressed preference.
In relation to this, if the judge determines that the preferred custodial arrangement is against the child's best interest, they will award custody based on other factors.
A divorcing couple with kids under 18 has to choose between physical and legal custody agreements for their children. Unfortunately, these custody disputes often become rather protracted and emotionally draining for all parties involved, including the children and the parents. Therefore, in some instances, the judge may grant “temporary custody” to one co-parent before finalizing the divorce while the couple continues battling for permanent custody rights.
The duration of child custody cases hinges on several factors. If both parents are dedicated to doing what's best for the child and are open to compromise, the custody case can be resolved quickly. Pertaining to this, the process can take longer if the parents cannot reach an agreement and legal intervention is required for a resolution, or mental health experts need to be involved.
Under California law, before any child custody litigation, the parents are required to attend mediation. The issue is then moved to court if the mandatory mediation session fails to resolve the dispute.
Yes, if you disagree with the child custody ruling, you can file an appeal. Filing a child custody appeal isn’t the same as a retrial. During the appeal, your San Diego attorney will explain where the discrepancy lies. If the higher court supports your appeal, they may make a new decision or order a new trial.
Unless the judge orders otherwise, court records are open to the public. A judge may seal records only if the couple sights safety or privacy concerns. The parents will have to follow specific procedural regulations in such cases.
The answer to this question will vary based on the situation (whether the divorce is amicable or whether you’re in the midst of a bitter custody battle) and the child's age. If both parents are committed to co-parenting, and the child is mature enough, giving the child a chance to opine on the custody schedule might be a profound idea.
Before discussing custody schedule details with your child, you must explain that you want their input because you value their opinion. Ultimately, you and the other parent will decide what's best for them. It may not always be possible to meet their requests, but this approach will make them feel included and understood.
In San Diego, grandparents are permitted to petition the courts for reasonable custody or visitation rights. If the parents are still married, grandparents cannot request visitation rights. Furthermore, this rule has some exceptions, such as if the parents live separately or if there is evidence of drug abuse.
The answer is yes. In relation to this, you need to take some additional steps to safeguard your legal rights. It will help secure visitation rights for your children. Some couples choose to have kids without tying the knot. In this situation, listing both the parents' names on the birth certificate at the time of the children's birth can protect their father's rights.
Signing a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage is the other option. If neither of these steps has been taken, the first step is to establish paternity involves agreeing to a DNA test before you can turn to the courts to obtain visitation rights to or custody of the children.
Law enforcement must treat all child abuse or neglect allegations seriously and conduct a thorough investigation. Based on this, the courts never make any ruling without deep consideration. They recognize that sometimes, one parent may falsely allege that the other parent is abusive or neglectful towards their children and that they do this for personal gain.
If you find yourself in a situation where the other parent falsely accuses you of subjecting your kids to dangerous situations or harming them, contact our robust and outstanding San Diego child custody attorney immediately. Someone who has been through the legal battlefields before and knows how to survive while under fire. We can assist you in defending yourself against these accusations and ensure that the other parent is held responsible for their deceit.
Definitely not! In San Diego, laws prohibit the consideration of sexual orientation as a determining factor in custody battles between parents. It means that the court cannot use your sexual orientation as a reason to rule against you in custody cases, just as they cannot use your race or religion against you. Therefore, you can be confident that your sexual orientation will not be a factor that affects your custody proceedings.
The repercussions of a new romantic liaison on your San Diego child custody proceedings are likely minimal unless your partner is found to be perpetrating physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse on your children. On the other side, if your involvement with your new partner is causing you to compromise on your parenting time with your children, the other parent could potentially have a legitimate reason to pursue a modification of their custody rights.
Certain circumstances may arise where a co-parent in San Diego is denied child custody or visitation by the family court. Furthermore, these kinds of scenarios are usually reserved for exceptional situations that pose a threat to the well-being of the child, and may include:
Under no circumstances is it lawful to withhold visitation rights from a parent when a legitimate court order exists. Even minor disagreements, delinquent child support payments, or disapproval of the other parent's new partner cannot be cited as valid grounds to refuse the other parent their visitation rights. If a parent chooses to impede visitation for unfounded reasons, it could result in grave legal consequences for the offending party.
If you harbor any concerns about your child's safety during visits with the other parent, you must seek advice from our knowledgeable child custody lawyers in San Diego as soon as possible. By doing so, you can better understand the options available to you if you need to challenge visitation within the purview of the law. Never attempt to handle things yourself, as this could have serious legal repercussions for which you may be held responsible.
Sharing physical custody of your child with your ex is never easy. Depending on your specific situation and related details, various options may be available when planning shared custody. Some options that you may consider in San Diego include:
At Moshtael Family Law, we understand the importance healthy upbringing for a child and the vital role parents play in their lives. Our firm provides valuable guidance on the intricate legal aspects of child custody and visitation rights.
Our San Diego child custody lawyers have extensive experience handling such cases successfully inside and outside the courtroom. We have a demonstrable background in litigation, which is crucial when a custody dispute goes to court. At the same time, our child custody attorneys are committed to seeking amicable resolutions for child custody and visitation as far as possible.
We have the legal skills to handle complex situations, such as ones involving allegations of neglect, domestic violence, or substance addiction. These serious issues can significantly impact child custody proceedings, and you will have our legal team by your side to help you navigate them.
To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a San Diego child custody attorney at Moshtael Family Law, call us at 619-639-9898 or contact us online.
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