One of the most difficult decisions that must be made during the divorce process is how custody of the children will be shared between the child's parents. Parents know their children best and can sometimes agree to a schedule for custody or visitation that they know will ease their child's transition during the divorce and be best for the child after the divorce. California child custody procedure can be a difficult, harrowing experience, which is why it's crucial to do your research first.
Parents will need to determine with whom the children will live and how the other parent will visit with the children. Oftentimes, parents are able to work out a mutually agreeable solution, known as a "parenting plan," for the custody of the children. If parents cannot reach an agreement on child custody themselves, the court can make a decision based on evaluating what is in the best interests of the child. Ultimately, the court will issue a custody order which will dictate how, when, and under what circumstances the parents of the child have custody or visitation rights with their child.
If the parents choose to agree upon a parenting plan, the steps they will need to complete are the following:
On the other hand, if the parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan and require court intervention, a custody order must be requested and obtained. This is done by opening a family law case with the court. Having an open family law case is required before requesting a custody order. The following types of family law cases can be started in order to request a custody order:
See Working Together to Resolve Custody for more details.
Once a family law case is opened, one parent may request a custody order by completing the following steps:
Please note, that unless there is a signed court order from a judge, a parent does not have an enforceable custody order. It is important that a judge signs a custody order whether or not the other parent agrees to a parenting plan.
Contact a California child custody lawyer if you have additional questions about California child custody procedure or need legal counsel.
Contact a qualified attorney.