Child Custody & Child Sharing

Legal Counsel for Custody and Child Sharing Cases in California

Perhaps the most frequently litigated issues in a family law matter are child custody and child sharing. Each family law action is unique as far as the issues that are relevant to child custody and child sharing. It is the policy of the State of California for both parents to have frequent and ongoing contact with the minor children. The goal of the Court is to make custody and child sharing determinations that are in the “best interests” of the children.

There is no issue in family law that is as emotion charged as child custody. Although California has “no fault” divorce, it is common for one parent or the other to use the child sharing issues as a vehicle to provide negative information to the Court about the other parent that would otherwise be inadmissible.

Pre-Hearing Mediation for Child Sharing Cases

In California, before appearing in court, both parents are required to participate in pre-hearing mediation with Family Court Services. Attorneys are not permitted at this mediation. In San Diego County, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement through the court mediator, the mediator will provide a report and recommendations to the Court.

Our San Diego custody attorneys at the Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider, APC believe that it is essential for our clients to be well prepared for the Family Court Services appointment. This preparation can include meeting with outside experts to which we refer the client.

Creating Child Sharing Plans in San Diego County

The Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider, APC is experienced in providing advice to clients as to a myriad of child sharing plans. We consider the relationship of each parent with the children, pre-existing schedule of the children, age of the children, geographic location of each parent, level of cooperation between parents, and any other factors which would assist the client in formulating a workable child sharing plan.

Beginning in 2012, California law was modified to provide certain additional rights to children to have their child sharing preference stated to the judge. Although theoretically, a child of sufficient maturity may be permitted to testify before the Court as to a custody preference, there are various methods of having the child’s wishes known without subjecting the child to the trauma of appearing in court.

Upon appropriate request, the Court can order an attorney be appointed for the benefit of the child(ren). The child(ren) can be interviewed by a reporting therapist. The Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider, APC is familiar with the vehicles to bring the child’s wishes to the attention of the Court, without causing undue stress.

Modification of Child Custody Orders

The court has the power, in an exceptional case, to issue emergency “ex parte” orders on one day’s notice or less. These exceptional circumstances would include physical abuse of a child, potential abduction or any other circumstances which might place a child in immediate risk of harm.

The initial “temporary custody order” motion is particularly important in setting the stage for future orders. Although temporary orders may be modified at any time prior to or at the time of trial, there is a strong bias in preserving the status quo. The Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider, APC is experienced in advising clients as to the evidence necessary to present to the Court at the initial custody determination.

One parent may accuse the other of improperly involving the child in the dissolution process. In an extreme case, one parent may attempt to alienate or poison the child against the other parent. The Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider, APC is experienced in addressing these issues on either side.

Modifying a Permanent Custody Order

At the time of trial or settlement, normally there is a “permanent custody order.” The word permanent in this context should not be construed to mean non-modifiable. However, to change a so-called permanent custody order, the requesting party must provide the Court with “change of circumstance” to justify a modification of the permanent custody order.

California case law gives more favorable rights to a parent who has a higher timeshare percentage with the minor children. To preserve the maximum protections to modify or resist modification in future orders, it is imperative the best possible permanent custody order be obtained as part of the original Judgment.

Contact Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider, APC to speak to an experienced San Diego family lawyer about your child custody case.