San Diego Child Custody Lawyers
Advocating Parents Who Fight For The Best Interest of Their Children
California has a policy of ensuring that each parent has frequent and continuing contact with minor children. This mandate is vague, which makes custody and visitation issues extremely nuanced.
When you need an experienced and compassionate child custody attorney in San Diego, call Embry Family Law P.C. We provide effective legal representation with a client-focused approach.
Let our San Diego child custody lawyer explain the law and the legal process as it applies to your unique situation. Call now to get started with a consultation.
Should I Hire A Lawyer For Child Custody?
Representing yourself in court is your right for child custody but it does come with pros and cons. Even in most states you do not need to have an attorney for a custody dispute in most states. Of course you will save money on legal fees. However, your attorney can help you prepare for the hearing, gather essential information, and present your case to the court.
If you are dealing with a custody dispute, contact us now to speak with a San Diego child custody attorney.
How is Child Custody Determined in California?
Courts in California use the best interest of the child as the standard when determining how parenting time should be shared between parents. Some of the factors involved in determining the best interest of the child include:
- Each parents ability to provide a loving and stable home
- The child's safety
- Any special needs the child may have
- The physical and mental health of both parents
- Keeping the child's routine consistent
In some cases, one parent may have primary custody while the other has visitation once or twice during the week. In other situations, parenting time is shared equally.
What is The Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody?
There are two types of custody that are considered in San Diego: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child will live and spend time. Legal custody refers to who has the right to make major decisions for the child.
Legal custody allows parents to make decisions regarding:
- Education and childcare
- Medical care
- Religious activities
- Summer camp
- Sports and extracurricular activities
Physical and legal custody can either be shared jointly – with both parents making the decisions – or held solely by one parent. When parents are unable to come to an agreement, the judge will base custody decisions on what he or she believes is in the child’s best interests.
What is The Difference Between Sole Custody and Joint Custody?
Sole legal custody is when one parent is responsible for making all major decisions regarding their child’s upbringing – this includes decisions about education, religion, and health care. Sole physical custody is when a child lives with one parent in San Diego. This doesn’t mean that the other parent doesn’t get to see their child, instead it means that they need visitation rights to see their child.
Joint legal custody is when both parents are responsible for making decisions about their child’s upbringing. Joint physical custody means that both parents share physical possession of the child, which allows both parents to have maximum involvement in their child’s life.
How To File for Child Custody in California
In order to file for child custody in California, several steps must be taken.
If you are an unmarried father seeking child custody or visitation with your child, you must first establish paternity with the court in San Diego county. This can be done by showing proof that you're name is on the child's birth certificate. In cases where a father is not listed on the birth certificate, paternity testing will need to be performed. For mother's seeking child support, this procedure also needs to be followed to establish paternity.
Completing Required Documents
There are multiple documents that need to be completed when filing for custody in San Diego County. This can include any supporting documentation, such as proof of paternity, any current or past custody orders, separation agreements, and domestic violence orders. The required forms include:
Order to Show Cause
Application for Order and Supporting Declaration
Child Custody and Visitation Application
Responsive Declaration to and Order to Show Cause
Notice of Motion
Proof of Service of Summons
Serving the Other Party
In any child custody case, both parties will need to attend all court hearings in San Diego county. In order to notify the other party of your intent to file for child custody, you must serve them with all of the required documentation listed above. Neither party involved in the case can personally serve the other party. An adult third-party that has no involvement in the case must serve the respondent in the case at least 16 days prior to the court date.
Child Custody and Unmarried Parents in California
When a child is born to unwed parents in the state of California, this can make the issue of parental rights a challenging one. If the parents aren't married, the court makes each party responsible in different ways by default. If either party wishes to have their rights changed, they have to initiate a family court case. It is important to work with a family lawyer for this step due to the complexity of this matter. Our professional San Diego attorneys at Embry Family Law will help you as you seek to adjust your legal rights as a parent.
Rights of a Mother
In cases where the parents of a child aren't married, the mother is granted sole custody. This gives her the right to make decisions on behalf of the child on her own. However, it also means that she is solely responsible for financially caring for the child unless a child support order is enacted. If she wishes to get child support from the father, she will need him to establish parentage of the child.
What Rights Do Unmarried Fathers Have in California?
An unwed father must take certain steps to establish that he is the father if he wishes to exercise any rights. Even if he is listed on the birth certificate, this is not sufficient to have custody rights over the child. As mentioned above, once a paternity test confirms that he is the father, he can then initiate a case with the family court to get custody status changed. At this time, he can also make requests regarding child support.
It is important to note that verbal agreements between the parents regarding child support, visitation, or any other aspect of the child’s life are not official or recognized by the court.
What Does The Judge Look For In A Child Custody Case?
The parent demanding custody must be able to meet their child's physical and emotional factors. These are the factors judges look at to base their decision for custody of the child(ren). Having a professional child custody attorney can help move the process along faster and gives you a stronger chance to win.
Build Your Case With Help From Our San Diego Child Custody Lawyers
Navigating a custody case can be challenging, and it is important to work with a San Diego child custody attorney who is skilled in this area and knowledgeable of California custody law. Our San Diego child custody lawyer at Embry Family Law P.C. has extensive experience negotiating and litigating child custody and visitation issues. We will provide an honest assessment of your case, tell you what you need to hear, and explain what is likely to happen in your situation. We help clients look past the difficulty of the present and see the future.