Our firm represents parents in navigating child custody and visitation proceedings.
Child custody rights become an issue when the relationship between a child’s parents deteriorates. This usually happens in the context of a legal separation or divorce but can also occur in situations where parents never married or don’t live together. The attorneys at GAJP, P.C. offer their experience and knowledge of child custody law in Northern California to represent parents in negotiations and other proceedings over the future care of their children.
Who Determines the Child Custody Rights Between Parents?
The court has final approval over decisions centered around child custody rights and obligations between parents. The court will presume that parents have equal child custody and visitation rights unless other circumstances exist (discussed more fully below). Despite having final approval on custody matters, courts will typically co-sign the agreed-upon terms between parents and their legal counsel.
If disputes exist on the terms of child custody, the court will usually have to decide after reviewing the relevant facts and supporting arguments. We help clients negotiate terms with their co-parents to mitigate court intervention when possible. However, we also serve as advocates before courts to represent your interests for child custody during hearings and other formal appearances.
Does Your Child Have a Say in Custody Disputes?
The best interest of your child is what guides courts when deciding a custody dispute matter. Depending on their age, the court may request an opportunity to hear their custody preferences and factor that into the court’s decision.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a formal, written agreement that the court ultimately approves outlining the important details of your custody and visitation duties between you and your child’s co-parent. The plan aims to set healthy expectations and boundaries for parents in how they care for their child, with the child’s overall well-being as the top priority.
Some of the elements you may find within a parenting plan include, but are not limited to, the following items necessary for your child’s care:
- Legal custody
- Physical custody
- Schedules for custody and visitation (i.e., which parent will be responsible for the child’s care on a particular date in the year)
- Travel and other arrangements for transferring the child from one parent’s custody to another
- Other terms related to the child’s care
If a parenting plan agreement covers the basics of childcare, the rest of the plan may be as detailed or flexible as the parents may like. In our representation of parenting plan negotiations, we rely on our experience to help clients reach terms that will meet their needs and provide an opportunity for a working relationship between the parents.
Can You Change a Child Custody Arrangement Afterwards?
Parenting plans and child custody orders are generally difficult to change once formally decided. However, your parenting dynamics and your child’s needs may change after the fact, giving rise to the need for an updated arrangement. Examples of the type of life events that may warrant revising a parenting plan include:
- Changes in a parent’s residence (i.e., moving)
- Marriage or other significant home-life changes
- New jobs or other time obligations
- Changes in your child’s health or care needs
- Changes in a parent’s health or ability to provide proper care (e.g., alcohol or substance abuse)
One parent’s failure to uphold the terms of the parenting plan may also warrant revising the terms of the agreement. When these life events happen, we help clients understand their options and work towards available solutions.
The Difference Between Child Custody and Child Visitation Rights?
Despite their similarities, child custody and child visitation are closely related terms that carry significant legal differences.
Child custody refers to a parent’s rights and obligations for caring for their child. In California, this can be legal custody and/or physical custody. Legal custody is a parent’s right to have input on major life decisions for a child (e.g., school, healthcare, religious affiliation, etc.). Physical custody, in comparison, is about a parent’s ability to make other decisions for the child while under their care (e.g., food and sleep habits, discipline, and other day-to-day choices).
More limited in nature, visitation rights allow a parent to see and spend time with their children. Visitation orders can come in different forms depending on the child’s relationship with the parent and other factors.
Speak With a GAJP, P.C. Family Lawyer About Issues of Child Custody Law
Our attorneys at GAJP, P.C. leverage their 25 years of combined experience to bring the firm’s clients real, effective results with child custody law matters throughout Northern California. With offices in Roseville, San Francisco, Sacramento, Folsom, and Concord, we always welcome the opportunity to meet with prospective clients to discuss their needs and to see how our firm may be able to assist.
Schedule a consultation with one of our child custody and visitation rights lawyers today.