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Child Custody Lawyer in San Mateo County

parents fighting over divorce and child custody

Child Custody Lawyer in San Mateo County

Understanding child custody may need the services of a San Mateo County child custody lawyer. Bradley Bayan has served residents in and around San Mateo County and shares this information on child custody in California.

Determining child custody involves defining the legal and practical responsibilities of a parent or guardian. If a dispute over child custody occurs, it  can be one of the most emotionally-draining experiences a parent will ever go through. Both fathers and mothers can be terrified at the thought of losing custody of their child. A good child custody lawyer will help a concerned parent calm such fears, making sure their parental rights are recognized and upheld. 

In most states, there are child custody is defined in both legal and physical ways. Legal custody refers to right of parents for decision making regarding major decisions in a child’s life such as their education and medical care. Physical custody refers to where physically the child resides. For example, it may make sense for a very young child to physically reside with the mother, though both parents share legal custody of their child and make decisions jointly about the care of the child. Later in a child’s life, it may make sense for the child to physically reside with the father but both parents still have legal custody and jointly make decisions when it comes to education, medical care, and other important areas that affect their child’s well-being.

If you are in the Redwood City area or in San Mateo county and are in need of establishing or modifying a custody agreement, it’s time to contact child custody lawyer, Bradley Bayan.

What is Child Custody in California?

Child custody is the legal term to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent (or legal guardian) and a child (minor). It includes addressing the rights of parents and the responsibilities of parents towards their children. Parents have the right to make decisions regarding the upbringing of a child. They also have the responsibility to support their children financially and emotionally.

The court has the power to grant joint custody or in some cases, sole custody to one parent, depending on the circumstances of the situation. Custody can also be granted to an individual other than a parent, such as a grandparent or a stepparent.  Child custody decisions by the court are influenced primarily as to what in the best interests of the child and the responsibility for the care and safekeeping of the minor child. 

Joint custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities in raising their children. Sole custody means that one parent has full rights to make all major decisions regarding their child’s life, such as where they go to school and what religion they practice. In general, the courts prefer joint custody but sole custody may be awarded if one parent is unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities due to unfitness.

Child custody issues are generally resolved through negotiations between the parties involved in the case, rather than going to court. However, custody decisions can be problematic if there is domestic violence or substance abuse. A court will need to evaluated conduct of a parent when making its determination about custody.

Establishing Paternity 

Establishing paternity is a  critical first step for parents who share a child but were not married.  It is necessary to establish legally who the father (paternity) is of a child.  In California, there are ways that a father can establish paternity. A mother can also take steps to identify legally the father of her child for the purpose of child support. For example one way is if an unmarried couple both sign an acknowledgment of paternity and have it filed. The California courts will recognize that document as establishing the man as the father.

If you’re not sure who the father is, or if you are unsure if you are the father, you may need to get paternity testing to determine the father.  Establishing paternity is necessary before custody, visitation, or child support will be ordered by a court. Knowing the father is beneficial for the child now and in the future, for example, inheritance, social security benefits, and medical or genetic reasons.

Factors Considered for Joint Custody

There are many factors that you, your lawyer, and the family court judge weigh in favor of joint custody, but the most important one is the best interest of the child. Joint custody allows both parents to be involved in the child’s life and makes it easier for the child to maintain a healthy, loving relationship with both parents. As difficult as the personal relationship may be between the parents, they should care more about the relationship between the child and each parent. Cooperative coparenting after a divorce or break up of a domestic partnership is in the best interest of your children. The courts will always look at what is in the best interest of the child when determining custody.

Will Children Be Asked to Testify During a Child Custody Hearing?

In general this is rare. There is a possibility that a judge may allow a child to be asked to testify during a child custody hearing in California. 

However, the court may only ask them to do so if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. The court will consider certain factors before deciding to ask a child to testify, including the child’s age, maturity, and ability to express their wishes. The child’s testimony will be taken in consideration along with all other factors as they do not want to make the child have to choose between their parents as they may be traumatic.

Ideally, the court would want parents to resolve disputes without involving the child in the dispute or making them appear in court.

Modifying Child Visitation or Custody Order

A visitation or custody order can be modified in California if there is a significant change in circumstances and it is in the best interest of the child. For example, let’s say one of the parents has to move further away due to a job change. Then you may need to modify the visitation schedule since that parent can no longer have the child on a weekly basis. Rather the parent may have the child once a month or only during the summer and school vacations.

Modifying custody may be a bit more challenging. To go from joint custody to sole custody, you would need to demonstrate that one parent is unable to be an equal partner in decision-making and the care of the child.

To modify a custody or visitation order, you must petition the court for a change. Both parents will have an opportunity to present why the custody or visitation order should or should not be modified. The court will then make a determination based on what is in the best interest of the child. In some cases, the parents with their lawyers can negotiate the change and present it to the court  and if reasonable , the court will approve the modification.

Schedule a Consultation With a Redwood City Child Custody Lawyer

With a qualified and experienced child custody lawyer like Bradley Bayan,  disputes about child custody can be handled with a minimum of fighting. Mr. Bayan knows the laws in California for child custody, modification, and establishing paternity. He will strive to represent your interests in family law matters.

With over 20 years of experience in domestic law, he is the sole proprietor of the Law Offices of Bradley D. Bayan in Redwood City, where he relocated to from his old offices in San Mateo.

Call the Law Offices of Bradley Bayan at (650) 364-3600 to schedule a consultation on child custody, divorce, or other domestic law matters.

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