Child custody is one of the most crucial issues in family law. Parents are vying for the opportunity to see and care for their children, and protecting your legal rights is of critical importance.
As divorce attorney's that exclusively practice family law, Hundal Family Law is intimately familiar with the complex web of child custody laws in the State of California. We work exclusively in the greater Sacramento, Roseville, Rocklin, Vacaville, and Fairfield regions, giving us detailed experience with local judges and mediators, including their preferences and tendencies.
Our attorney has litigated countless child custody cases, including move-away/relocation matters. Whether you are going through a divorce, establishing paternity, or modifying existing custody orders or parenting plan, Hundal Family Law is here to assist you.
Contact us online or call (916) 864-3944 to schedule a consultation and learn about your rights.
Understanding Child Custody in California
There are two main types of child custody in the State of California:
- Physical Custody. Physical custody refers to the physical responsibility of a child.
- Legal Custody. Legal Custody refers to control over significant decisions relating to the general health, education, and welfare of a child. It includes decisions over matters such as healthcare, and religion.
Child custody is either:
- Joint Custody, or
- Sole Custody
How is Child Custody Determined in greater Sacramento, Roseville, Vacaville, and Fairfield?
There are various factors that the court will consider when making a custody order. The basic standard is to determine what is in the "best interest of the child."
Before a judge decides your child custody case, parents are required to participate in custody mediation. In custody mediation (also known as Child Custody Recommending Counseling), parents will meet with a trained mediator to assist in settling child custody related issues. Custody mediators help parents with a parenting/visitation schedule, and mediating other issues that touch on custody.
Some counties are recommending counties, while others are non-recommending. Recommending counties are counties where a mediator makes a recommendation to the judge for unresolved child custody issues. For example, if you go to mediation and are unable to agree on child custody matters, the mediator will then write a recommendation to the judge on the issues that were not agreed upon.
Non-recommending counties are counties where a mediator does not make recommendation to a judge on issues that were not agreed upon. In these counties, a judge will make the final decision on disagreed upon issues. However, in most counties, there are additional procedures that may be utilized when mediation is unsuccessful, including child custody evaluations.
The following counties are recommending counties:
- Sacramento County (Sacramento, West Sacramento, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova)
- Solano County (Vacaville, Fairfield, Benicia, Vallejo)
- Yolo County (Woodland)
Placer County is not, by default, a recommending county. However, parties may agree, or the court may order, a custody evaluation, which will then produce a recommendation.
Child Custody Factors Mediators and Judges Consider
Some of the child custody factors courts in Sacramento, Roseville, Rocklin, Vacaville, and Fairfield take into consideration are:
- History of drug or alcohol abuse
- History of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect
- Each parents relationship with the child
- The extent to which each parent contributed to raising the child
- Each parent's ability to co-parent with one another
- A child's preferences, if he/she is mature enough (generally 11 or 12 years or older)
The weight given to these factors is vested in the sole discretion of the judge. Although the public policy of the State of California is to provide a child frequent and continuing contact with both parents, it is only to the extent such contact is in the best interest of the child.
Child custody is often times the most emotional and volatile aspect of any divorce. As a child custody attorney, Hundal Family Law is involved in every step of the custody process. We recognize the considerable discretion judges have in fashioning a child custody order. Our goal is to provide the best possible result based on each set of facts and circumstances while being honest and transparent.
Other Issues That May Arise in Custody Disputes
Child custody is much more than a parenting schedule that determines how often each parent visits their child. Our wholistic approach to custody addresses child custody matters before they become contested future issues. This includes addressing the following issues:
- Extracurricular activities
- Day care providers
- Choice of school
- Medical treatment
- Ensuring parents are on a child's emergency contact
- Issuing passports
- Decisions about a child obtaining their drivers license
- The time and location where children are exchanged
- Vacation protocol, including how many days and procedure for informing the other parent
Addressing these issues in a binding court order will reduce the stress and anxiety in the future. Our goal is to help create custody orders that provide stability and continuity for parents and children. Addressing these issues and establishing protocols and procedures promotes accountability and reduces uncertainty when issues arise.