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 two primary types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to parental rights 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 in the legal custody of their 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 and health.
If you are in the San Mateo area and in need of establishing or modifying a custody agreement, it’s time to contact a child custody lawyer in San Mateo today.
What is Child Custody in California?
Child custody is the legal right and responsibility to make decisions regarding the upbringing of a child. The court has the power to grant sole custody or joint custody, depending on the circumstances of each case. Custody can also be granted to an individual other than a parent, such as a grandparent or a stepparent. Custody outlines the responsibilities 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.
Child custody issues are generally resolved through negotiations between the parties involved in the case, rather than in a court case. Custody however can be problematic due to domestic violence or substance abuse. A court will need to evaluated conduct of a parent when making its determination about custody.
Establishing Paternity in Child Custody Cases in California
Establishing paternity is a critical first step for parents in a child custody case. It is necessary to establish legally who the parents are of a child. In California, there are several ways that a parent can establish paternity. For example, if an unmarried couple have a child together, they both sign an acknowledgment of paternity to establish 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 parentage is necessary before custody, visitation, or child support will be ordered by a court.
Factors Considered for Joint Custody
There are many factors that 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 relationship with both parents. 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?
It is possible that your children may be asked to testify during a child custody hearing in California. In general this is rare. 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.
Modifying Child Visitation or Custody Order
A visitation or custody order can be modified in California if there is a showing of changed circumstances and it is in the best interest of the child. To modify a custody or visitation order, you must file a request with the court and serve it on the other parent. The court will then set a hearing date. At the hearing, both parents will have an opportunity to present evidence and testimony as to 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. It is best if a formal legal modification is made by the parents to avoid any future problems.
Schedule a Consultation With a San Mateo 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 and establishing paternity and will strive to represent your interests. With over 20 years of experience in domestic law, he is the sole proprietor of the Law Offices of Bradley D. Bayan in San Mateo, California.
Call the Law Offices of Bradley Bayan at (650) 364-3600 to schedule a consultation on child custody, divorce or other family law matters.