Should I Hire a Lawyer for Child Custody?
Technically, it is possible to navigate a child custody determination without an attorney. However, doing so is not a good idea. You run the risk of making procedural errors as your case unfolds, which may result in a child custody agreement that does not suit your preferences or your child’s needs. When you work with a Fair Oaks child custody attorney, you increase your chances of a fair and reasonable result in your child custody determination.
Ultimately, hiring a Fair Oaks child custody attorney will cost more than navigating the situation on your own, but you face enormous legal risks by foregoing legal representation. Consider your choice to hire an experienced child custody lawyer as an investment in obtaining the child custody determination you hope to see.
Who Is the Best Child Custody Lawyer?
When you need legal representation from a Fair Oaks child custody attorney, it is natural to want the best attorney you can find to handle your case. Ultimately, your choice of attorney will have a profound influence on the outcome of your case and the type of experience you have with the situation. Take your time to find an attorney who can provide comprehensive, responsive, and compassionate legal counsel throughout your case’s proceedings.
If you choose McCunn Law as your Fair Oaks child custody attorney, we are confident that you will be more than satisfied with the quality of the legal counsel you receive. We take a client-focused approach to every case we represent. We will get to know you and your family so we can better understand your family dynamics and what type of custody agreement would work best for you and your children. If you have questions about the child custody determination process, you can be sure that our team will be ready to provide the legal counsel you need to better understand the situation as it unfolds.
Can I Negotiate Child Custody Privately With My Coparent?
No one knows your children better than their parents, and divorcing parents must keep their children’s needs at the front of their minds during their child custody determinations. Some divorcing parents may wonder whether they can negotiate with their coparents and develop their own child custody determinations. Unfortunately, this is not an option under California law.
California family law requires that the family court ensures any child custody determination suits the best interests of the children it will affect. Divorcing parents may privately negotiate a proposal for a parenting plan in divorce mediation that includes their preferred custody and child support terms, but they must submit this proposal to the family court and obtain a family court judge’s approval before it will be a formal and legally binding agreement.
If you want to have more control over your child custody determination, you should take advantage of private mediation with your coparent if at all possible. This is common in divorce proceedings, as mediation offers divorcing parents more control over other aspects of their divorce like property division and alimony. While divorcing parents cannot make any firm decisions regarding their future custody arrangements, they can develop a solid parenting plan that a judge is likely to approve.
Many divorcing or unmarried parents can find it very difficult to work cohesively with their child’s other parent. However, mediating a parenting plan can effectively provide them with a foothold in reaching a child custody agreement that more closely suits their personal preferences. While there is no guarantee their family court just will approve their proposal, they may approve it with a few minor adjustments the parents find reasonable.
What Will a Judge Consider When Determining Child Custody?
Regardless of whether a child custody determination involves divorcing married parents, unmarried parents, or divorcing parents who want to mediate their divorce, a judge must review and approve their custody determination before it becomes a legally enforceable family court order. In the event a judge must determine child custody, they must assess several factors to determine what type of custody arrangement would suit the child’s best interests best:
- The judge must evaluate each of the parent’s living arrangements to ensure they are capable of providing a clean and safe environment in which they can raise their child.
- The judge will review each parent’s income. This will not only help to establish each parent’s financial ability to provide for their child’s basic needs but also influence a related child support agreement.
- If either parent has any history of domestic violence, child abuse, or criminal conviction, these factors will heavily influence the judge’s determination. If a parent does not qualify for custody rights, they will still be financially liable for child support.
- Most judges are willing to consider a child’s preferences if the child is able to make a sound argument and convey their wishes coherently.
Once a judge has determined these factors, they will deliver their ruling. It is not uncommon for parents to feel slighted by a family court judge’s determination due to the fact that they have little to no bearing on the final outcome.
Can I Change My Child Custody Agreement?
If you believe that your current child custody terms are unfair, imbalanced, or fail to suit your child’s best interests, the family court system provides a modification process that allows you to petition for a change to your current family court order. Divorced and unmarried parents with child custody and child support orders commonly use the modification system to address unexpected changes in their lives that materially affect the terms of their custody and support orders. For example, if a parent paying child support sustains an injury that results in permanent disability, they petition for modification to reduce their child support obligation due to decreased ability to pay.
The modification process is fairly straightforward. The party desiring the modification files a petition with the family court, and the court will arrange a hearing. During this hearing, both parents will attend and have a chance to speak on the issue. The party requesting the change must offer a convincing argument and supporting evidence for a judge to consider it. When a modification pertains to a change to a child custody order, the judge must ensure that the proposed change will suit the child’s best interests more fully than the original custody order.
What Happens If a Parent Violates a Custody Order?
If you are beholden to a child custody order, it is absolutely crucial that you follow the provisions of the order to the letter. Any violation of a child custody order can not only lead to a loss of your parental rights but also criminal penalties depending on the nature of the violation. If you believe your child’s coparent has violated your custody order in any way, it is best to consult your Fair Oaks child custody attorney as soon as possible.
The most viable response to your coparent’s violation of your child custody order is to file contempt proceedings against them. When you file contempt proceedings, you are essentially asking the judge to assess that your coparent violated the custody agreement willfully and to rectify the situation. Contempt could lead to them losing their custody rights on some level in addition to other criminal penalties.