Generally, the court upholds that children benefit the most with equal access to both parents in as close to equal measure as possible. This means that relatively equal legal and physical custody rights are the judge’s goal in most child custody determinations. Legal custody refers to making decisions on a child’s behalf, and physical custody refers to where the children live and spend their time.
When both parents in a child custody case are fit, capable of providing basic needs for their children, and pose no apparent risks of endangering their children in any way, the judge will likely lean toward a joint custody agreement that provides relatively equivalent custody rights to both parents. As long as the parents live within proximity to one another, their children’s schools, and their children’s medical care providers, a joint custody agreement is likely. However, joint custody may not be exactly 50/50, and the children may not spend an equal amount of time with their parents.
Your custody order is likely to result in one parent assuming slightly greater custody rights than the other. When one parent is unfit, unwilling, or incapable of abiding by a joint custody order, the judge may grant the other parent sole custody and only allow the other parent to have limited visitation rights.
Child custody also influences child support. Since the court expects both parents to financially support their children equally, the parent with greater custody is likely to receive child support from the parent with limited custody or a noncustodial parent. Therefore, the court will carefully evaluate the children’s needs and the estimated cost of meeting their basic living requirements, and the parents’ respective financial situations to determine the total child support obligation. For example, suppose one parent has greater custody than the other. In that case, the court assumes that their greater custody responsibilities inherently cover their financial support obligation, so the other parent will likely be required to pay them child support regularly.
One of the unique aspects of family law that sets it apart from the rest of the civil law system is the post-judgment modification process. The family court system of California acknowledges that life can change unexpectedly in several ways, and some of these changes will materially influence standing child custody and support orders. For example, losing a job can influence a parent’s ability to meet their child support obligation. In addition, if a parent suffers a catastrophic injury or develops a disability, they may be unable to fulfill their custody obligations. It’s also possible that a parent may wish to relocate, making their current child custody order untenable.
It is possible to change an existing child custody order without an overly complex appeal process. However, the modification system requires the parent who needs to change their custody order to submit a petition to the court outlining their desired change or changes and their argument as to why the requested change is reasonable and necessary. Suppose the court’s initial review of their petition determines it holds merit. In that case, the court will set a hearing for the modification proposal, and both parents will have the opportunity to speak on the issue.
Changing your child custody order is a valuable option that can allow you to preserve your children’s best interests in the face of suddenly altered circumstances beyond your control. Your Irvine child custody lawyer can guide you through this process, helping you draft your initial request for modification and preparing you for the hearing in the Irvine family court.
Child custody determinations are some of the most emotionally stressful family law matters anyone can experience, and having the right legal representation can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case. The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers wants to provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal counsel you need to approach your child custody determination with reasonable expectations and a clear understanding of the laws as they apply to your unique case. So, if you are ready to discuss your impending child custody case with a trustworthy Irvine family law attorney, contact the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers today, and schedule your consultation with our team.