As experienced child custody attorneys in Marin County, California, The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., knows how challenging and emotionally-draining the legal issues are surrounding any custody dispute. Child custody is fraught with difficulty whether you are going through a divorce, custody modification, or are unwed and in a custody dispute.
When you work with us, you receive counsel from a true professional in the California child custody field. We pride ourselves on acting with integrity and compassion when guiding parents in making the best decisions for themselves and their children for now and in the future.
Contact The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., and allow us the opportunity to help you achieve the level of stability and support necessary for you and your children to thrive.
Two Types of Child Custody Orders in Marin County
There are two types of child custody orders. These are legal custody and physical custody. The parent with legal custody makes essential decisions for the children, such as health care, education, and religion.
Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the children reside. Legal and physical custody are either shared jointly by the parents or held solely by one parent or the other.
In joint physical custody, parents share approximately equal periods of physical custody with one another. Parents may also agree to their schedule or version of joint physical custody with or without roughly equal physical custody.
Parents are encouraged to develop their own legal and physical custody arrangements. If unable to do so, California law requires parents to attend mediation before participating in a contested court procedure. If the parents are still unable to agree, a judge determines custody arrangements on their behalf.
How Marin County Judges Determine Child Custody and Parenting Time
Judges determining child custody in California look to the best interests of the children when deciding each parent’s time with the children. Judges do not give preference to either parent based upon the sex of the parent, nor can judges deny custody or visitation due to physical disability, lifestyle, religious belief, or sexual orientation.
Judges are primarily concerned with the health, safety, and welfare of the children and that the children benefit from frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Judges examine specific details about the children to determine these factors such as:
- The age of the children;
- The health of the children;
- The emotional ties between the parents and the children;
- The ability of the parents to care for the children;
- Any history of family violence or substance abuse; and
- The children’s ties to the school, home, and community.
Beyond these concerns, judges consider several other factors when delegating custody and parenting time, including:
- Child’s preference: California law requires courts to consider the wishes of intelligent, mature children regarding custody. The law specifies no particular age, but age and maturity likely add weight to a judge’s decision.
- Co-parenting skills: Judges look to parents’ actions and favor the parent more likely to encourage a positive relationship and to continue contact between the children and the opposite parent. Judges may restrict custody and visitation of a parent who interferes with the children’s relationship with the other parent.
- Continuity and stability: Judges prefer parents who are maintaining stability and regularity in the children’s home environments.
Marin County Parenting Time or Visitation Laws
Parenting time, or visitation, is dependent on the best interests of the children, the situation of the parents, and other factors as listed above. Parents usually need a detailed visitation plan to prevent conflict and confusion between themselves. Visitation schedules often include holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s day, and school vacations.
There are four typical visitation schedules ordered by judges based upon the best interests of children.
- Visitation according to a schedule: The parents abide by a detailed visitation plan. This prevents and reduces conflicts and confusion. Visitation schedules include dates and times that the children will be with each parent, holidays, special occasions, and vacations;
- Reasonable visitation: A reasonable visitation order is detailed as required for the individual parents involved. Generally, these are more flexible, allowing parents leeway to work conflicts out together. These work exceptionally well when parents get along and communicate with one another.
- Supervised visitation: Supervised visitation is necessary when the children’s safety and well-being require visits with the other parent to be supervised by the other parent, another adult, or a professional agency. Supervised visitation is helpful in cases where a parent and child need to build a relationship.
- No visitation: Parents receive no visitation when any other visitation option is not in the best interest of the children. In cases where no visitation is permitted, children are at risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm at the hands of a parent.
Special Note Regarding Child Support and Visitation in Marin County, California
Child support orders go into effect at the same time as child custody and visitation orders. At no time is it acceptable to the court to withhold visitation for lack of child support payments. If a parent is behind in support payments, contact an experienced family law attorney before taking any such action.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Marin Child Custody Attorney
Whatever your individual needs are, at The Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., our Marin County Family Law attorneys will work diligently with you to evaluate and prepare a child custody and visitation schedule. We understand time with your children is the priority when reaching a desired child custody arrangement. Together, we will create a realistic strategy for helping you achieve this goal.
Whether you are finalizing the terms of your divorce, seeking a modification to an existing child custody arrangement, or simply have questions about a possible child custody matter, our attorneys are here to give you the answers and reassurance you need. Contact us to schedule a confidential consultation.