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CA custody lawyerDomestic violence is the most common felony offense in the U.S., and it goes largely unreported. Another unreported aspect of domestic violence is when the abuser harms their own child, which is more common than the average person might think. In fact, 30 to 60 percent of children living in abusive homes are, in addition to the other victim, physically or sexually abused themselves, according to Stop Violence Against Women. This startling fact is one of the main reasons that judges side with the victims of domestic violence when the couple splits up and child custody becomes an issue.

Child’s Best Interests

The court will always side in favor of the child’s best interests, and obviously being sexually or physically abused is not in their best interest. Moreover, even if children are not abused themselves while living in a home where domestic violence occurs, they are still more likely to suffer from emotional, behavioral, developmental, social, and learning problems. Early childhood trauma, such as seeing their mother get slapped, pushed, or threatened, can follow a child into adulthood, causing depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and lower economic status.

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California family attorneyYou may have heard that California family courts make custody and visitation decisions based on the best interest of your child. But what does that really mean? An experienced Santa Clara County child custody attorney will be able to give you a detailed answer to that question.

Factors that Contribute to a Child’s Best Interests

When the court makes a decision regarding the custody of your child or the visitation rights that you or another party may have, the court looks solely at what is in the child’s best interests. Usually, it is in the child’s best interests if the two parents share custody equally, though that is not always true and is not always possible given the location of each parent or their relationship with each other. Here is a closer look at what ‘best interests” actually means:

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California family lawyer, California divorce lawyerThere are many reasons that the court may consider a child custody modification. Common reasons for modifications include if the child is in physical or emotional danger from one of their parents, if one of the parents continuously violates the terms of the court agreement, a relocation of one of the parents, a severe injury or illness of either parent, or if your child persists on living with you for another reason and they are old enough to have a valid opinion in the court’s eyes. But what if there is no specific problem with the other parent that can be pointed to, and the child’s actions alone show a need for change? If your child is in danger of heading down the wrong road in life due to your divorce and separation, and the stress of living with the other parent, it may be necessary to pursue a modification.

Rebellion after Divorce Is Normal for Children, but Trouble with the Law Is Not

Many children act up after their parents get divorced or separated. In fact, many studies have shown that children of divorce “score significantly lower on measures of academic achievement, conduct, psychological adjustment, self-concept, and social relations.” That does not mean that getting in trouble with the law, flunking out of school, getting in fights, underage drinking, theft, aggression, graffiti, and other forms of acting out should be tolerated or ignored. Rebellion is normal, but if the other parent is influencing or even encouraging the poor behavior, there may be grounds for a custody modification.

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Posted on in Child Custody

California child custody attorney, California family law attorneyIt is important to remember that the court will always choose what it believes to be in the best interest of your child. Whether a parent is abusive, constantly late for scheduled pick ups, or has a drug or alcohol problem, the court will take that information and make a decision based on the negatives that those characteristics bring to the table. The court may eventually decide, or decide right away, that a particular parent is a potential threat to their child’s well-being, and put restrictions on their visitation rights. Often, that restriction is to only allow supervised visitation. Whether you have had restrictions put on your visitation, you believe that the non-custodial parent should only be allowed supervised visitation, or you simply want to learn more about visitation orders in general, contact a skilled family law attorney for answers to your questions, as well as for immediate and experienced assistance.

Reasons for a Supervised Visit

The court may order all visitations for a parent to be supervised by a third-party person for various reasons. There may be a threat to the child or there may be a need to slowly establish a long-lost relationship before normal visitation can occur. The court will also determine the length and location of these supervised visits, according to California law. There are many reasons why the court may deem supervision a necessity, including:

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Posted on in Visitation

California custody laws, California family law attorneyNot all divorces and separations go smoothly or end with the desired outcome - in fact, when children are involved, few do. The issue of custody and visitation rights is one of serious debate and emotional turmoil, as the court’s decision on the matter will affect the child and both parents for years to come.

Visitation and custody force a couple to find some grounds for cooperation and mutual understanding when the fact is that neither of those two things were strong enough in the relationship to make it last in the first place. So how do you cope with it now? For some parents, the task of handing over their child to a partner that they do not deem fit to be a guardian is too much and they may wonder if they can simply refuse to allow visitation to continue. If you are heading down this path, or need legal counsel to re-address custody or visitation rights, contact the child custody and visitation rights attorneys at our office as soon as possible so that we can help guide you in the right direction.

Your Custodial Rights Could Be in Jeopardy

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California family law attorney, California custody lawyerWhen it comes time for a judge to determine custody and visitation rights, the child’s (or children’s) well-being takes priority. The court will always choose in favor of the child’s physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional well-being, and custody and visitation will be granted accordingly.

It can seem entirely unfair for a mental health disorder to determine whether or not a parent will be able to visit their child on a regular basis, but that is often one of the factors that the court considers. After all, parents who suffer from certain mental illnesses pose a potential threat to their children’s mental and emotional well-being, according to various research outlined by the Institute for Family Violence Studies under FSU's College of Social Work.

The determining factors of visitation rights are often based on the non-custodial parent’s:

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California custody attorney, California family law attorneyIn the past, if the parents did not agree upon shared custody, the court usually granted primary custody to the mother, as it was deemed that she would have more time to provide for the child and would provide better care. While the judge would give sole custody to the mother, the father would be given visitation hours and would be required to pay child support. The reasoning behind this aging dogma was that the father would be better suited to providing financial assistance through his job, while the mother better suited to home making and caring for children. As women gain rights in the workplace, this practice is becoming more and more outdated in most states, including California. While women still only earn 81 cents for every dollar that men make at the same job, that number used to be 62 cents on the dollar back in 1979, per the International Labor Organization.

According to California law, if the parents cannot reach an agreement on custody rights, the court will make the decision based on what is best for the child. According to California Courts, these factors include:

  • The health of the child;
  • The emotional ties between the parents and the child;
  • The ability of the parents to care for the child;
  • Any history of family violence or substance abuse; and
  • The child’s ties to school, home, and his or her community.

There is no law that states the mother will be given priority if all other factors are equal. However, if you feel that you are not being given an equal chance for custodial rights, it may be time to contact an experienced child custody attorney to argue your case for fair and equal representation. Additionally, the court is not legally allowed to deny your custody or even visitation rights based on the following factors:

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California custody laws, California family law attorneyAccording to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of marriages result in divorce, with subsequent marriages having an even worse rate of success. Divorces are, of course, very hard on young children. An even more difficult scenario is moving after a separation. Relocation to a different state can cause serious conflict between the two separated parents, as well as problems for their child as well. Often, moving is a huge stress on young children, and can have long lasting negative effects. However, a good job opportunity or the chance to live with other family members may be too good to pass up and may be seen as positives in the eyes of the court. But, is it always possible for one parent to relocate without the blessings of the other parent? How does a parent gain the court’s permission, or prove to the court that a move would not be in the best interest of the child? 

According to California law, the parent with primary custody may move away with the child unless the other parent is able to prove that the relocation would harm the child. However, if the custody is shared (a joint custody), the parent that wants to move with the child must prove to the court that the move is in the child’s best interest, which may be a tall task. Because the final decision is left to the court and these decisions vary, based on the individual circumstances of each case, it is imperative to seek the best legal counsel available whether you plan on relocating or you are opposed to the other parent’s plans for relocation.

Traveling Out of State and Out of Country

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