Child Custody and Visitation Lawyer in Redding
What Do the Child Custody Labels Really Mean?
Child custody can refer to legal custody or physical custody. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child, including medical, educational, and religious decisions. Physical custody refers to where the child will physically reside.
Child custody can be joint custody or sole custody. Joint custody refers to shared custody between the mother and father. Sole custody refers to one parent having total custody over the child (either legal custody, physical custody, or both).
Most of the time, child custody disputes center around physical custody. Typically, there will be a primary custodial parent, with whom the child will reside the majority of the time. For the other parent, the time spent with the child is commonly referred to as visitation, shared custody, or parenting time.
If you have a serious dispute regarding child custody, the court can appoint a minor's counsel to represent the interest of the child. If child custody is highly disputed, the parties can request, or the court can order, a child custody evaluation.
Ms. Trindade is a family law specialist (certified by the State Bar of California), with significant experience handling cases where legal and physical custody are disputed.
How Are Custody and Visitation Determined?
In California, in any family law case where child custody or visitation is in dispute, the parties must participate in mediation. The court provides a qualified mediator to mediate these issues.
It is the mediator's role to use his or her best efforts to encourage an agreement on these issues in accordance with what the mediator feels is in the best interest of the child or children. In Shasta County, and in most California counties, attorneys are not allowed to be present during the mediation process, so it is very important to speak with an attorney. In Shasta County and many other Northern California counties, if the parties do not reach an agreement during mediation, the mediator may be allowed to make a recommendation to the court and either party may ask that the recommendation be made an order of the court. Either party may also dispute the recommendation and request a hearing. No agreement or recommendation is legally effective between the parties unless it has been made an order of the court.
Child Custody Modifications and Relocation Issues
Where there has been a significant change in circumstances, a party can request the court to modify child custody or visitation. Some situations that may warrant a change of custody or a modification of a visitation schedule include relocation (also called a “move away”), a parent's new love interest who may have a drug or alcohol problem, or other situation that may present a danger for the child.
Our Philosophy in Handling Issues Involving Children
Your children’s well-being should be your first priority. Children are vulnerable and need to be protected, especially when the child’s parents are arguing and breaking up. The child’s entire world is collapsing, which is very threatening and frightening to a child. The parents may choose to separate and divorce each other, for various and important reasons. Friends and family members frequently take sides in the separation. It is very, very important not to ask the child to take sides, either explicitly or implicitly. Parents need to openly support the child’s relationship with the other parent and reassure the child that, even though the parents are not staying together, they both love the child and it is OK for the child to love both parents. Children love their parents. Children need a healthy relationship with both parents (even if one has a mental health issue). Long-term studies show that children of divorced parents do very well – so long as their parents are able to work together as separated parents in raising the children. The more fighting and acrimony exists between the parents, the worse the children do on a short-term and long-term basis.
We strongly encourage clients with children to maintain open lines of communication with the other parent, to work cooperatively with the other parent in making sound decisions about the children, and take a constructive approach to resolving disputes about the children. We also strongly encourage clients to consider the impact of every choice on the children. In the family law justice system, this is called being “child focused.” Divorce is very stressful, on everyone. It is critically important to the child’s well-being for both parents to be child-focused.“We use the term ‘ex-wife’ or ‘ex-husband,’ ... but you never hear ‘ex-mom’ or ‘ex-dad!’
– Tamera C. Trindade