Child Visitation Lawyers in Orange County
Two important issues in any divorce involving children include child custody arrangements and child visitation. Divorce is difficult enough as it is without the involvement of children, but when children are involved, former spouses must continue to preserve a relationship and craft agreements dictating the terms of child custody arrangements. Parents must work together to come up with a plan to not only remain civil in years to come, but to provide their children with the same lifestyle they would have had otherwise. If you are in the process of divorce or simply determining child visitation arrangements, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Orange County child visitation lawyer.
Child Custody Agreements
Child visitation is carefully modeled after any child custody agreements which have been entered into by both parents, either on their own terms, or the terms of the court. Many parents and former spouses prefer to enter into their own child custody and child visitation agreements on their own terms, through the assistance of trained mediators, but in some cases, a court will make the final determination of the child custody agreements.
Child custody disputes are often heated, as neither parent wants to give up access to their child. However, one parent is typically appointed as the custodial parent, which simply means that the child will have this parent’s permanent address. Even parents who share custody of their children will mark one parent as the primary custodian. The other parent will have visitation rights.
In determining the child custody and visitation matters, courts often lean toward joint legal custody, which means that both parents will share custody and make important decisions concerning the child’s health, safety, education, and well-being. Only in rare circumstances will parents not be awarded joint custody, including situations in which one parent is deemed unfit, the parents cannot make decisions together, or it is in the child’s best interests to have one parent as their sole legal custodian. An experienced and successful Orange County divorce lawyer that handles all types of child visitation, custody, and child support cases can help you understand all the ins and outs of a child custody agreement at a more in-depth level.
What Types of Child Custody Exist?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to child custody. Each family and case is unique. To accommodate a family’s unique needs, the courts in Orange County have several custody options available. You and your spouse will first get the opportunity to choose your own type of child custody. If you cannot agree, the courts will decide for you. The type of custody and visitation arrangement you come to after divorce will depend on many factors. The main factor is the best interests of your child.
- Legal custody – Legal custody refers to a parent’s legal right to make decisions for the child. A parent with legal custody can decide things such as the child’s health care, education and church.
- Physical custody – Physical custody refers to the home where the child will live. A parent with physical custody will share a home with the child. In most cases, a judge will try to give both parents physical custody as the primary option.
- Joint custody – When a judge grants legal and/or physical custody to both parents, they will have a joint custody obligation. As long as it is safe for the child, a judge will try to maintain the child’s contact with both parents as much as possible. The details of the joint custody arrangement will depend on the situation.
- Sole custody – If a judge cannot grant joint custody due to issues with one parent, such as alcoholism, crimes, mental health problems or a history of domestic violence, he or she may give one parent sole custody instead. The parent without custody may or may not have visitation rights.
- The amount of time each parent will have with the child. In most sole custody situations, unless it is unsafe for the child to see the noncustodial parent, that parent will receive visitation rights. The noncustodial parent can then visit with the child at scheduled times, either supervised or unsupervised.
In deciding legal vs. physical custody, a judge can mix and match measures as he or she deems appropriate. Both parents may share legal and physical custody, for example, or one parent may have both and the other neither. In some cases, both parents may have physical custody but only one has legal custody. A judge’s decision in Orange County centers on one main question: what will be in the child’s best interests after the divorce? Working with a child visitation lawyer could help you create a parenting plan a judge will sign off on.
Once the parties or the court has determined which parent is the custodial parent, the court or parties will then turn to child visitation issues. Typically, the non-custodial parent will have visitation rights which can vary based on the proximity of both parents’ houses, the child’s schedule, and other factors. Most non-custodial parents agree to share custody by having visitation rights on the weekends or on one night during the week. Visitation agreements will specifically outline which days each parent will have visitation rights, including holidays, summer, and any other school breaks. Parents often choose to trade off every other year on holidays.
Child visitation agreements can be modified as the children’s schedules change and in other outside circumstances. If one parent moves to a different state, children will often not be able to visit every weekend, but may instead stay for extended visits during holidays.
Can I Change My Child Custody Visitation Orders?
Once a judge signs off on your child custody and/or visitation order in Orange County, you will have to abide by the order until and unless the judge grants you an official modification. You cannot modify the agreement on your own or with your spouse. If the courts did not grant the change, you could face severe penalties – including kidnapping charges – for having custody of your child when your spouse had rightful custody. It is extremely important to apply to legally change your child custody visitation order if you qualify to do so.
The courts will not sign off on a custody or visitation change for just any reason. They take visitation orders very seriously and create parenting plans based on weeks or months of investigation and assistance from childcare experts. The only time the courts in Orange County will consider signing off on a modification to a visitation order is if the parent has had a significant change in circumstances since they created the order. This could mean a new job, incarceration of one parent or military deployment. You and your visitation attorney will need to create a case arguing why the modification is necessary. Then, a judge will review your case and decide whether to grant or deny the modification request.
Boyd Law | Orange County Child Visitation Attorney
If you are going through a child visitation dispute or are attempting to draft or modify an existing child custody agreement, contact the experienced Orange County child visitation attorneys of Boyd Law. Our attorneys have years of experience in handling all types of complicated family and divorce law issues and understand that the most important aspect of any agreement is the amount of time you can spend with your children. Contact our Orange County office today to set up your initial free consultation.