Child Custody

Orange County Child Custody Lawyer

One of the most challenging types of family law issues are those involving child custody disputes. When parents are unable to agree to how they are going to raise their shared children, things can become contentious, to say the least.

If you and your child’s other parent have been unable to formulate a parenting plan that works, you may need an aggressive legal advocate on your side in order to protect your children’s best interests. Meet with our experienced Orange County child custody lawyer at Pedrick Law to find out how to best approach your case. 

What is Child Custody?

Child custody orders refer to court orders that place the responsibility of providing for and raising your children. Unfortunately, there are many situations in which parents of children are not able to work out these plans on their own. 

Whether you are going through a better divorce, a difficult separation, are suffering from abuse at the hands of your child’s other parent, or are In a unique family dynamic that requires parents to raise their children separately, obtaining a strong child custody order maybe in not only your best interest, but that of your children as well.

With that being said, there are many different types of custody, parenting plans, and custody arrangements that you and your child’s other parent could come to. Here is more about the differences between legal and physical custody, and the other types of custody arrangements your family might decide to enter into as part of your child custody plan.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the parent or parents who do all of the major decision-making regarding their children’s lives and upbringing. This can include a wide array of different details, some of which might include:

  • Where your children will go to school
  • What types of schools your children will go to
  • What extracurricular activities they participate in
  • What religion they are raised in, if any
  • What music, television, and entertainment they take in
  • Major medical decisions, including vaccination and other healthcare treatments

These are only a few of the major decisions that will need to be made regarding your children’s upbringing. In most cases, it is almost always in the best interest of your children for you to work with your child’s other parent to come to an agreement about these important choices and more. 

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for parents to be unable to work together to resolve these disputes. Oftentimes, one parent will feel as though the other parent is taking advantage of them or failing to take their parenting decisions and wishes into consideration.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to the parent who retains actual physical custody of the children. The parent who has physical custody of the children maintains the home in which the children primarily reside. 

In the past, it was assumed that the mother of the children would retain physical custody of the children. But in recent years, this dynamic has begun to shift. These days, the courts are taking far more into account, such as what the children want, the lifestyles of the parents, and other important and relevant details.

The parent with whom the children primarily reside will be referred to as the custodial parent, while the parent the children do not reside with will be known as the noncustodial parent

Different Types of Custody Agreements 

There are two primary types of custody, physical custody and legal custody. But there are multiple ways in which you can work your child custody agreements in both regards. Generally speaking, there are two primary types of custody arrangements. These include sole custody and joint custody.

In a joint custody arrangement, both parents may work together to make all major decisions regarding their children’s upbringing and what they are exposed to in their lives. Some families may even be able to enter into joint physical custody arrangements, which allow the children to reside at both homes for equal amounts of time. This provides both parents and their children with the opportunity to maximize the quality of their parenting time

Sole custody arrangements are much different. Here, if one parent has sole custody of the children, they do not need to consult with the child’s other parent in any regard about their decisions or the way they are raising the children. 

It is not common for families to enter into sole custody agreements. However, in instances where it may be in the best interest of the children and the child’s life to limit their exposure to one parent, then sole custody may be granted to the child’s other parent.

What is Visitation?

Visitation rights are much different than your child custody agreements. Even in cases where one parent has been awarded sole custody of the children, the other parent may still have visitation rights. Visitation refers to the times in which a non-custodial parent has the right to visit with their children. In some cases, parents may have the right to visit on a daily basis, every other weekend, or any other visitation agreement that can be made in court.

Visitation can be supervised or unsupervised depending on the details of your case. In instances of physical abuse or substance abuse by one parent, visits may be supervised or limited, if granted at all. Supervised visitations are generally only ordered by the courts when the parent may pose a threat to the child in some way, perhaps due to domestic violence, for example. As a general rule, you can expect supervised visits to be monitored as well.

What Do Orange County Child Custody Lawyers Do?

Many people struggling to come to child custody arrangements in Orange County are unsure whether they need to reach out to an attorney. Unfortunately, when you are unable to work with your child’s other parent, you run the risk of having these critical decisions made by a judge in court. 

For this reason, it may be in your best interest and that of your children to retain legal representation as soon as you realize that working out a child custody plan on your own is not possible. But you will also want to make sure you have an experienced attorney to handle complex child custody issues, such as:

  • One parent attempting to claim their child on their taxes after it was agreed that the other parent would
  • One parent refusing to return the children to the other parents care
  • One parent is withholding child custody over child support disputes
  • You and your child’s other parent reside in different states
  • One parent has been ordered to participate in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program
  • Your child’s physical or emotional safety and well-being are in jeopardy
  • One parent has mental health issues
  • One parent has a criminal background
  • One parent abusing other family members
  • One parent is incapable of providing adequate living conditions

Fortunately, when you have an experienced Orange County child custody attorney and family lawyer representing you, you can expect your attorney to handle the legal details of your case. Some of these responsibilities might include:

  • Establishment of paternity
  • Development of parenting plans
  • Modifying existing child custody plans
  • Legal guardianship
  • Representing you during mediation
  • Adoption
  • Investigating your case
  • Drafting and filing your court motions
  • Prepping you for court
  • Negotiating child custody payments

These are just a few of the instances in which it may be best to get an experienced Orange County child custody attorney to take on your case. You may not always feel it necessary to get a lawyer involved, but when it comes to your children, you can never be too careful.

What Are Orange County Contested Child Custody Cases?

Contested child custody cases are the most common type of child custody cases. Here, parents are unable to come to a solid child custody arrangement that might include important details including how much child support will be paid, which parent will pay it, how the children’s property will be divided between residences, and most importantly, your parenting schedules.

Families who are able to come to their own agreements can go about getting their child custody orders formalized and finalized in Orange County family courts. These are known as uncontested child custody cases. But when you need to get attorneys involved, go through mediation, or worse, a judge needs to figure out your parenting plan on your behalf, this may be considered a contested child custody case. 

These are often far more costly, complicated, and exhausting for families all around. No matter how challenging it may be to work with your child’s other parent, it may be the best way to ensure that your child custody plans work out in your favor.

What Do Judges Look For In Child Custody Cases in Orange County?

When child custody cases get brought before the judge in Orange County, there are many factors that a judge will take into account. The judge has one goal, to act in the best interest of your children. They will need to take a number of different details into consideration in order to figure out what is best for your children. 

As you can imagine, a judge who does not know you, or your children stepping in to make these critical decisions on your behalf can be a worst case scenario. Some of the considerations the judge presiding over your case will take into account include:

  • The physical health of both parents
  • The mental health of both parents
  • Both parent’s ability as a caregiver
  • Both parent’s history as a caregiver
  • Both parent’s current living arrangements, including whether there are new romantic partners involved in their lives
  • Environmental concerns at home
  • The habits of both parents
  • The children’s wishes, depending on the age and maturity of the children

Of course, you can avoid having the judge step in for your family by working with your child’s other parent to come to a custody plan that works. No one knows your children better than you do. Do not let your child custody case get so out of hand that a stranger starts deciding how your family lives their lives.

How to Make Orange County Child Custody and Visitation Modifications

Once a child custody or visitation order has been implemented by the courts, it is binding. This means that both parents are required to adhere to the parenting plan as ordered by the court. 

However, there may be many situations in which one or both parents find it necessary to make child custody and visitation modifications. Once an order is in place, if you hope to change your custody agreement, you will need to file a petition to do so with the court.

In cases where both parents are agreeing to the changes, you may be able to simply amend your child custody terms after a hearing. But in cases where parents do not agree to the proposed child custody or visitation modification requests, then both parties may need to have their case heard by the judge. Some valid reasons for child custody or visitation modifications includes:

  • One parent changing their job hours
  • One parent hoping to relocate to another state
  • One parent growing their family
  • One parent struggling with substance abuse issues
  • Changes in the children’s schooling or extracurricular activities

Remember, the courts will always act in what they believe to be the best interest of your children. For this reason, if you and your child’s other parent are unable to agree to a modification request, you will need to be prepared to defend your stance in court, and prove that your decisions for denying or requesting these changes are in the best interest of your children if you hope to win.

How to Obtain Custody of Your Child in Orange County

If you are hoping to win your child custody battle in Orange County, there are a number of different things that you will need to be able to prove to the court. The only thing that matters to the judge is that the child custody plan in place is in the best interest of the children. Here is how you can prove to them that you deserve child custody:

  • Showing the emotional bond that you have with your children
  • Showing that you have a desire to care for your children
  • Getting any mental health or substance abuse treatment you needed
  • Obtaining gainful employment and safe housing
  • Submit to any required drug or alcohol testing by the courts 

Once you have lost custody of your children in Orange County, it can be difficult to get it back. For this reason, it is imperative that you take the steps necessary to prove to the court that your children would be best served by you retaining custody or obtaining visitation rights. 

What to Include in Your Orange County Parenting Plan

Many parents find that they are stuck formulating parenting plans that actually work. This is, in part, because of the fact that they do not know which details are most important to include. If you hope to devise a strong parenting and child custody plan in Orange County, here are some of the key details to go over:

  • How healthcare decisions will be made
  • How each parent will communicate with children 
  • Responsibility surrounding school issues 
  • Which parent the children will live with primarily 
  • How parents will share holidays and birthdays
  • What will happen if one parent loses their job 
  • What happens if one parent has an increase in income
  • Discussions about any safety risks the children may face 
  • How you will handle changes in either parent’s work schedule 

These are only a few of the different details that you will need to discuss with your child’s other parent in order to formulate a parenting plan that is thorough, complete, and meets both parties’ needs.

And do not be surprised if it takes several rounds of negotiations before you and your child’s other parent are able to work out a parenting plan that makes sense. There is also a strong possibility that your case will need to be brought before a judge if you and your child’s other parent are unable to work out the details of your parenting plan without such intervention.

Who Pays Attorney Fees for Child Custody Cases in Orange County?

One of the biggest questions people have surrounding their orange county child custody cases are the costs. In general, each parent will be responsible for covering their own attorneys fees and legal costs in association with their child custody case. 

However, there may be situations in which the higher-earning parent may be required to cover the legal fees of the lesser-earning parent, or if there is a considerable difference in the financial resources available to both parents. You can find out more about what to expect from your Orange County child custody fees when you contact our law firm for a free consultation.

Contact a Child Custody Attorney in Orange County 

When you and your child’s other parent are unable to draw up parenting plans amicably, you may need a reputable Orange County child custody lawyer and family law attorney at Pedrick Law to help you avoid having your child custody plans decided by a judge. 

Get the legal advice and support you need. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today so we can start working on your child custody negotiations. Complete our quick contact form or give our law offices a call at 949-313-2704.

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