Child Custody

Child CustodyLegal Guidance in Manhattan Beach for Individuals Pursuing a Divorce

Divorce can be difficult for children, especially when it is acrimonious. Families with children are often concerned about how the process will affect their kids and how their parenting time will affect their relationship with a child as he or she grows into adulthood. It is important to obtain representation from an experienced family law attorney when you are resolving child custody matters in Manhattan Beach or elsewhere in the Los Angeles region. At the Calderone Law Firm, we can use compassion and skill to advocate for the best interests of your children.

Child Custody Determinations

When divorce proceedings start, both parents have equal rights to custody of their children. There are no preferences for mothers or fathers in California. Custody has two parts: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is a parent's authority to make major life decisions for a child with regard to health, education, or welfare. Physical custody involves the child's physical presence with a parent. Either of these components can be "joint" or "sole."

In California, judges prefer to award joint physical and legal custody when possible. A judge who does not order joint custody is required to write a written explanation as to why he or she did not award it. Often, it is better for a family if the parents reach an agreement through mediation about custody and present a parenting plan to the court.

The primary issue that a judge will evaluate when determining child custody is the best interests of the children. First and foremost, the court will consider the children's health, safety, and welfare. For example, judges are not supposed to grant custody to the father of a child who was conceived because the father raped the mother. Similarly, the court is required to make specific findings that a parent's history of physical or sexual abuse is not a risk to the child if the court wants to grant that parent custody or visitation.

If a state agency corroborates a parent's claim that the other parent habitually uses illegal drugs or alcohol, this may weigh against that parent's custody or visitation. In general, however, the court is also supposed to recognize that children are better off when they can be in frequent contact with both parents.

Some parents want to know whether their child's preference will have any bearing on the proceedings. Children's preferences are considered in California only when they are considered mature enough to actually understand and make an intelligent decision about whom to live with.

Another factor that courts consider is whether a parent is going to encourage the child to have a good and continuing relationship with the other parent. In general, the court will look unfavorably at your case if you try to stop your child from having a relationship with the other parent. For example, it can be very detrimental to a parent's case if he or she is found to have made phony claims of abuse or drug use against the other parent in order to interfere with the other parent's rights.

Discuss a Family Law Matter with a Manhattan Beach Attorney

Child custody is often a heated subject that has the potential to upset the whole family. If you are considering dissolving a marriage with children in the Manhattan Beach area, you should consult an experienced divorce lawyer to make sure your children's best interests are represented. At the Calderone Law Firm, we counsel people in Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, San Pedro, and Torrance. Call us at (310) 706-4101 or contact us via our online form to arrange an appointment.