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Irvine Child Custody Attorneys

RM Law Group attorneysIn many divorces or breakups involving unmarried parents, child custody is the most challenging part of negotiations. It’s natural to fear losing time with your child, which often leads to both parents fighting for a greater share of parenting time. However, it’s important to remember that the best interests of the children are always top priority in California.

There are many ways to customize a custody schedule that fits the parents’ needs and accommodates the children’s best interests.

Whether you need help with child custody as part of a divorce or you’re trying to work out a dispute with a co-parent you were never married to, you can trust the team at RM Law Group to represent your and your child’s best interests. Call us at 866-706-3160 or fill out a contact form to set up a consultation now.

How California Law Approaches Custody

As is the case in other states, California courts put the best interests of the child above everything else. This means that even if one parent gets less parenting time than they want or feel they deserve, the court will make the decision they feel is best for the child in question.

California recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody determines who can make important decisions about the child’s medical care, education, safety, and overall well-being. Sole legal custody means that one parent has full decision-making power. However, joint custody, allowing both parents to make these important decisions, is more common.

The other type of custody is physical custody. This refers to where the children live. Sole physical custody means that the child lives exclusively with one parent and has set visitation times with the other parent. Joint custody, which is generally preferred by the court, is an arrangement in which the child lives with both parents. It doesn’t necessarily mean that both parents get half of the parenting time.

Finding a Fair Custody Arrangement

It’s helpful to start with a basic understanding of what both parents want. In highly adversarial divorces, it’s not uncommon for both parents to want sole custody. However, the court generally prefers a joint custody arrangement that allows the child to have ongoing, meaningful time with both parents. Parents often find it helpful to look at their other obligations—generally work—and determine where there’s room to share parenting time with their co-parent. Two common joint parenting schedules are the week-on-week off schedule and the 2-2-5-5 schedule. While the latter does involve fairly frequent switch-offs, it also ensures that the child rarely goes long stretches of time without seeing either parent.

Although joint custody is preferred, it isn’t always an option. If one parent lives out of state or works such a demanding schedule that they cannot take their parenting time, it may make more sense for the other parent to have sole physical custody. In these situations, the non-custodial parent may have visitation every other weekend or as their schedule allows.

In situations involving abuse or addiction, the court may determine that the non-custodial parent cannot even have unsupervised visitation. The Orange County Superior Court offers a long list of supervised visitation centers, including Supported Supervised Visits, which serves Irvine.

Factors to Consider

The court will consider a range of factors when trying to settle a custody dispute. Relevant factors include:

  • The child’s age and health
  • Ties to the child’s school, home, and community
  • Each party’s parenting abilities
  • History of abuse or substance abuse
  • Family violence on either side
  • The child’s ties with each parent 

Modifying a Custody Order

It’s rare for an initial custody order to meet a child’s needs throughout their entire childhood. You may need a modification due to a change in work schedule, one parent moving away, one parent not utilizing their parenting time, or a change in the child’s preferences. If both parents agree on the necessary changes, it’s often as simple as drafting the agreement and getting the court to sign off on it. If the other parent does not agree, you will need to file your proposed change with the court and take the matter in front of a judge at the Lamoreaux Justice Center.

How RM Law Group Can Help

The team at RM Law Group has helped many clients throughout the Irvine area navigate complex custody concerns. From crafting a child custody agreement during divorce to helping unmarried parents develop a fair custody agreement, we understand that these issues are nuanced and highly emotional. We strive to help you work through this time toward a custody agreement that keeps your child happy and healthy.

Explore Your Legal Options With Our Team

When you’re ready to sit down and discuss your custody needs in greater detail, the team at RM Law Group is here for you. Fill out our online contact form or call us at 866-706-3160 to get started.