Divorcing couples do not always agree on what is the best custody arrangement for their children. Nevertheless, the child custody attorneys at Brown Dahan are results-oriented and will work tirelessly to obtain a custody arrangement that is in your child’s best interests. We understand the difficulties that child custody decisions can involve for all parties because we have extensive knowledge of complex child custody laws. At Brown Dahan, we are dedicated to helping you assert your legal rights, and achieving the most positive outcomes possible for you and your family.
Physical custody of children can be either sole, joint, or shared. Usually, courts presume that joint legal custody (where the children have frequent contact with both parents) is in the child’s best interests. Joint legal custody can encompass agreements where a child alternates one-week periods between spouses, or where a child spends three days of the week with one parent and four days of the week with the other. However, there are also situations where sole physical custody is in a child’s best interests. “Sole physical custody” can comprise a variety of living arrangements. For example, it may mean one parent does not have any visitation, or it may mean that a parent with visitation has contact every weekend or something in between. Shared custody allows for parents to share physical custody of the child in addition to joint decision making.
It is important to keep in mind that legal custody is different from physical custody. A parent with legal custody has the ability to make decisions related to a child’s welfare, education, and health. Rarely does a court award one parent sole legal custody.
A court in Orange County will consider all factors in a child and the custodial parent’s history in determining a child custody arrangement. If the child is over the age of 12 and mature, the court will take into consideration where the child wants to live.
Other factors the court will consider include financial stability, health, parental lifestyle, second-hand smoke, domestic violence, drug use, emotional bonds, established living pattern (e.g. where the child’s school or community is), alcohol abuse, impact on the child of changing the existing arrangements, and which parent is likely to encourage visits with the other parent. If one parent has been the child’s primary caregiver and there are no negative factors related to that parent’s caretaking, this fact can be very influential in the court’s decision.
If you are a parent seeking sole custody, you should be aware that a family court may consider prior drug or DUI convictions or order drug testing before making a decision about full custody. While a positive result or prior conviction does not necessarily mean the other parent will be granted full custody, it can be a factor in the judge’s decision. Similarly, domestic violence can be a big factor in a judge’s decision. Mitigating factors if a parent has been accused of domestic violence include: completing a treatment program, completing an equal shared parenting class, and demonstrating how much time has passed since the accusations of domestic violence.
These matters are highly complex, so couples seeking divorce should seek experienced legal counsel right away. Because divorce courts can determine how assets are divided, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you understand the process and ensure that your rights and finances are duly safeguarded during the process. That is where Brown Dahan attorneys can help.
Secure your children's future and well-being by ensuring they are supported financially
Modify prior orders as straightforwardly as possible, and get honest assessments of whether changes would be worthwhile
Get the best custody and visitation agreement for your children and strong advocacy before a judge if no resolution is reached
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