Child Custody Procedures – California Family Code Sections 3021 – 3032
When you separate from your spouse, you and the other parent must decide with whom your child will primarily live with and how the child will spend time with you and the other parent.
Child Custody Procedures
You do not need a court order if you and the other parent can agree on a custody arrangement, which is obviously what you would prefer. However, if you cannot agree with the other parent, you would need the assistance of a lawyer to attempt to convince the court that your legal position as to child custody is the one that the court should adopt as the child custody order.
If you wish to obtain a custody and visitation court order, you must request one from the court. The ability to request an order depends on whether you and the other parent are married and, if so, what legal process are you and the other parent engaged in.
If you are married, either you or the other parent may request a child custody and visitation order in the following circumstances:
- Divorces, Legal Separations, and Annulments(Cal. Fam. Code § 3021): Either you or the other parent can request a custody and visitation order when a divorce, legal separation, or an annulment has been filed. Before the divorce is finalized, either you or the other parent can request a temporary order for custody and visitation. When you or the other parent requests a temporary order, the judge will set a court date for the custody and visitation hearing.
- Domestic Violence Restraining Orders(Cal. Fam. Code § 6300 – 6306): If you or your child is a victim of domestic violence, you may ask a court for a custody and visitation order when you request a domestic violence restraining order.
- Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children(Cal. Fam. Code § 3120): Even if you and the other parent do not wish to get a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, either you or the other parent may commence a case for child custody called a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children.
- Paternity (Parentage) Cases(Cal. Fam. Code § 7600 – 7650): A paternity case involves couples who are not married but have a child together. A paternity case establishes who the legal parents of your child are. Once it is determined who the legal parents are, the legal parents can request a child custody and visitation order from the judge.
- Domestic Violence Restraining Orders(Cal. Fam. Code § 6300 – 6306): If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may request a child custody and visitation order when you request a domestic violence restraining order.
- Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children(Cal. Fam. Code § 3120): If there is no paternity case and the father has signed a voluntary Declaration of Paternity, either you or the father may file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children.
Mediation Appointment for Child Custody
Whenever you or the other parent requests a child custody order, the court will order you and the other parent to attend mediation in order to attempt to reach an agreement on child custody issues. The goal of mediation is to help you and the other parent create a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your child. Mediation also may help relieve any anger or resentment between you and the other parent. If you can agree on a parenting plan with the other parent, you would need to present it to the judicial officer, who will then create a court order.
If you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement through mediation then you would need to go to court. In some cases, the judge will ask an experienced mental health professional to assess you and the other parent’s ability to care for your child. The mental health professional will make a recommendation to the court regarding child custody arrangements that they believe is in the best interest of your child.
Experience in Child Custody Procedures
Parents who wish to separate have an important decision to make in regards to the custody of their child. It is always beneficial to have an experienced child custody attorney to guide you through the child custody procedures. The skilled child custody lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have been practicing family law for over 30 years. The Wallin & Klarich child custody attorneys have the knowledge and experience you need to achieve the best possible result in your case. With offices located throughout the Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties, there is always a Wallin & Klarich lawyer available for you. To consult with a Wallin & Klarich attorney today, please call (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.