San Fernando Valley Child Custody Attorney
Fighting for the Best Interests of Your Child
California child custody law can be highly complex and confusing. An attorney may play an important role in helping a parent understand his or her custody rights in regards to a divorce or legal separation. At Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law, we understand that child custody is one of the most important points of any divorce or separation agreement. You want what's best for your child, but your spouse may be unwilling to cooperate, may be unfit to be involved in raising your child or children, or may have different views on how to resolve your custody dispute. It is important that you have a lawyer on your side to fight for your rights and represent your interests.
Types of Child Custody
In California's family court, parents who are going through a divorce or legal separation must decide on child custody. Child custody often refers to the rights and responsibilities of a child's parents, but also refers to who will take care of the child.
There are two types of child custody:
- Legal Custody – Decides who makes important decisions on behalf of your child(ren).
- Physical Custody – Decides who the children will live with.
California law dictates that either parent can have custody of the children, or the parents can have shared custody. Ultimately, a judge will decide the specifics of custody and visitation rights according to the best interests of the child. In order for this order to go into effect, both parents must agree. Most child custody cases are not cut and dry, however, and emotions, money, affairs, or other ulterior motives could hinder the best possible outcome for you or your child.
Having a qualified San Fernando Valley custody attorney by your side can help make sure your best interests are maintained in an often brutal court system. If you are looking for compassionate but efficient and practical legal counsel concerning your divorce or family law needs, Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law works to ensure your family is taken care of. Attorney Cutter has over 30 years of legal experience, and his experience as a high school teacher gives him compassionate insight into child custody cases that tend to be emotionally charged and delicate. Together, the attorneys at our firm wish to work on your behalf to obtain the most favorable results possible.
Determining Child Custody
In making decisions about child custody, the court will look to do what is in the best interests of the child. As such, custody may be awarded to both parents jointly, or if one parent is deemed unfit in some way only one parent will be awarded custody.
The court may look to such factors as:
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The income of each parent
- Each parent's ability to provide for the child's needs
- Each parent's ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment
- In some cases, the child's preference
If you are working to reach an agreement regarding child custody out of court, you may be able to create a flexible, creative solution to custody and visitation that works with you, your spouse's and your children's unique needs. This can be more difficult in court proceedings involving custody, but the right lawyer can positively affect your case in either event.
Parenting Plans for Families & Children
According to the Parenting Plans guidelines established by California's Supreme Court and family law court, research findings show that in an effort to maximize a child's adjustment to the process of separation or divorce, "parents should cooperatively plan to establish a parenting arrangement that will ensure the child's right to continuous and frequent contact with both parents."
No matter what type of child custody guidelines you and your spouse agreed on, the fact remains that there are crucial factors that go into the development of your child. Many of those factors can be influenced and affected by the way you and your spouse treat one another, as well as how you treat your child during this time of change.
When developing a parenting plan that is optimal for your child's development and best interest, you should consider some of the following:
- Age, gender, and stage of development of your child
- Emotional, social, and educational needs of your child
- Health, welfare, and safety of your child
- Levels of communication, and cooperative behavior between parents
- Parental ability and support of your child
- Cultural and social factors
All of these factors play a role, however small or large, in the development of your child during the process of a divorce or marriage dissolution. Ultimately, it takes great cooperation between both parents to ensure a high-quality, stable parent-child relationship. While it is understandable that each child develops uniquely, and even the most civil parents could see complications in their growing child, seeking legal guidance on how to best proceed with your divorce or legal separation could help you during your emotional and stressful time.
Special Circumstances Affecting Parenting Plans
Every divorce or separation is different, just as each child or parent involved is unique from any other family situation. What may work for you may not work for other families, so seeking legal guidance can help you find a level of consistency and comfort for your family.
If you are experiencing especially stressful circumstances such as the following, you may want to consider supervised visitation:
- Child abuse or neglect from one spouse or parent
- Serious drug or alcohol abuse or addiction
- Criminal activity, or repeated jail time sentences
- Serious mental or psychosocial disorders
- Domestic violence from your spouse, or parent to child
- Continuously intense parental disagreement, conflict, or tension
When choosing a parenting plan, parents should always consider their relationship with their child, but also the child's relationship with the other parent. Always look out for the best interest of your child and seek an optimally healthy and stable environment for your child to develop in. If a child's physical, emotional, or mental well-being are at risk, it is your priority to protect the child. Parents who may be struggling with an uncooperative spouse or violent partner should seek help from an attorney.
Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law has been helping families with their legal needs for the past 30 years, and we work hard at reaching successful negotiations in tough conflicts. Should a parent refuse to be in your child's life, or if you prevent the parent from being in the child's life, serious repercussions could take place. Each family's circumstance has different factors, but a lawyer can help you decide what the best options for your family are, and help with the adjustment process back to a life of normalcy.
Benefits of Discussing a Parenting Plan with an Attorney
A parenting plan is not just an agreement or regulation for parents. Parenting plans are implemented to create a sense of routine, predictability, and consistency during a time of extreme change for your children. By having an agreed upon plan, children will learn what to expect during this time of transition, and create new patterns of day to day life. Our attorneys at Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law understand that the last thing you want is dysfunction or more heartache, and establishing a stable parenting plan with a San Fernando Valley custody lawyer is the best way to ensure that you and your children can get back on your feet.
Contact our firm to schedule a case evaluation.