Child Custody and Visitation

“The Best Interests of the Children”

Child Custody and visitation orders in California are based on “the best interests of the children” standard. In general, there is no gender preference for the custodial parent, and one of the primary stated goals of the legislature in California is to provide frequent and continuous contact with both parents.

There are numerous factors that the courts must consider when fashioning custody and visitation orders, such as drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, the need for children to have a stable environment, the age and gender of the children, and the children’s wishes.

Custody and visitation disputes tend to be a highly litigated area in Family Law. You are responsible for every aspect of your children’s custody case and you know your children better than anyone else. When parents are unable to reach custody and visitation agreements regarding their children, the parties place control of the decisions affecting their children in the hands of the Court. It is important to seek guidance and legal advice on the issues that can affect your children to make sure that you obtain orders that are best for you and your children.

San Diego mandates that the parties attend mediation prior to the court hearing in an effort to resolve as many issues as possible, and to see if the parties can establish common ground. The parties attend mediation by themselves, even if they have retained counsel. Preparation for mediation is crucial, since there is a strong tendency to adopt the Family Court Services recommendations as the order of the court. Parties have the right to request that the court set an evidentiary hearing so that they may call witnesses or cross examine the mediator, but it can be very difficult to get the mediator to make any change to their recommendation once they have written a formal report.

Parties can seek modifications to their existing custody and visitation orders whenever there are circumstances that would warrant an adjustment of the schedule. Even parents that received an initial bad recommendation and limited visitation can modify their child sharing plan once they have complied with the court orders, such as parenting classes, counseling or drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Want a free initial consultation?

To arrange a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney who is certified in Family Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, call:

(619) 442-2100