Ask an experienced Orange County child custody attorney what makes custody and visitation cases difficult and the wisest answer you will receive is setting aside the emotions that the parents often wrap themselves into – it is after all your children that are the subject of the dispute. It’s hard. Every Orange County child custody attorney at Farzad & Mazarei is a parent. Between our three lawyers, we have a total of seven children. Ours mean the world to us just as yours are the center of your universe. But that is exactly why our custody lawyers are effective – because we understand what you are going through and our experience, patience, negotiation and litigation skills get you to a place of peace, with your children protected. Let’s go through how child custody cases are handled in Orange County Family Court.
The overriding and number one principle to every custody and visitation order in the State of California is the child or children’s “best interest.” A best interest analysis typically looks at the children’s health, safety, education and general welfare.
But how does an Orange County child custody attorney obtain a court order for custody and visitation on behalf of his or her client? In nearly every case, the process starts with the filing of a formal “request for order” (which used to be called an order to show cause prior to 2012). In these series of legal documents, the parent who seeks the order declares under oath the current situation surrounding the children, the fitness or lack thereof of each parent and a proposal for what custody and visitation should be consistent with the children’s best interest. Once your Orange County child custody attorney files this paperwork in Family Court, the court clerk will set the matter for a hearing date, both parents will be ordered to a court appointed mediation where they will be required to at least try and resolve their custody and visitation issues and, if they are not successful in doing so, the Court will then have a full hearing.
At the hearing, your custody lawyer will present to the Court three issues:
- Legal Custody
- Physical Custody
Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding the children’s health, safety, education and welfare. If the Court gives the parents joint legal custody, then the parents must communicate and confer with each other before decisions concerning the child are made, especially important decisions in a child’s life. If the Court gives one parent sole legal custody, that parent is responsible for making the decisions. Orange County courts generally give both parents joint legal custody unless there is a compelling reason to not do so.
Physical custody is the custodial timeshare with the children and what is often the issue of dispute between the parents. The experience of an Orange County child custody attorney is critical here. We have seen so many lawyers who represent the other parent make ridiculous arguments concerning custody that are inconsistent with the Orange County parenting guidelines and, in many instances, common sense and good parenting. We generally know what to expect from the family law judge assigned to the case in a custody dispute. Our knowledge of the law and experience has taught us the pattern of thinking Orange County Judges are trained to employ and often do when particular factual situations about custody are presented to them. That experience from each Orange County child custody attorney within our firm pays tremendous dividends for you because you make the right arguments in Court, present the proper facts and don’t get caught surprised or unprepared.
If an Orange County Family Court gives both parties joint physical custody, the Court anticipates the sharing of significant periods of custodial time that ensures both parents will have “frequent and continuing contact” with the children. If the Court gives one parent sole physical custody, then that parent will have the predominant custodial time with the children. How much time the other parent obtains depends on the discretion of the Court and what is in the children’s best interest.
Visitation is simply the non-custodial parent’s time with the children. Visitation can range from 1% to 49% and how much visitation one parent gets versus the other is up to the Orange County Family Court and what the Court considers to be in the child’s best interest.
Issues that can make custody cases contentious include:
- Allegations of drug or alcohol abuse
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse, physical or sexual
- One or both parents’ psychological disorders
- One or both parents’ history of criminal or reckless conduct
- One or both parents’ refusal to communicate with each other or to co-parent
- One or both parents’ alienation or negative conditioning of the child against the other parent
In such custody cases, the skill of your Orange County child custody attorney is critical. The investigation that must be done, the gathering of critical witnesses, the careful election of the appropriate forensic psychologists and, just as important, the preparation for the hearing that takes place well before you step into Court (and not what most family law lawyers do which is to read their file and get familiar with their case which they are sitting in Court) can mean the difference between an order that is in your child or children’s best interest or one that jeopardizes it.
Orange County child custody information is a major part of why we built this website. Visit our FAQ section for even more answers.
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