Child Custody FAQ’s – California Family Code Section 3020
Is child support related to child custody?
Although they are two separate court orders, child support and child custody are related because the amount of time you may spend with your child will affect the amount of child support you must pay.
However, since they are two different court orders, you are never allowed to refuse the other parent their custody or visitation rights because he or she is not paying the child support he or she owes. In addition, you are not allowed to stop child support payments because the other parent won’t allow you to see your child.
What can I do if the other parent refuses to comply with the child custody order?
You have two options if the other parent refuses to comply with the child custody and visitation order. First, you can contact the local police department and request them to enforce the order.
The second way is for you to file an action for “contempt” with the court. In contempt actions, you can request the court to enforce the order by showing the judge the other parent willfully disobeyed the court order. When you file for contempt, it is important that you keep accurate records of all visitation violations, including dates and times the other parent did not show up, showed up late or other custody violations. In addition, you can request attorney’s fees be paid by the non-compliant parent or that the court impose monetary sanctions until the other parent complies with the custody order.
What if I want to travel to another state or country with the child, but I am unable to find the other parent to obtain their permission?
Generally, you need the permission of the other parent to travel to another state or country with your child. But if you cannot find the other parent, you must go to court and ask the judge for permission to leave without the other parent’s permission. You must show the court that you have made a good faith effort and tried everything to find the other parent. If the judge allows you to travel, the order to travel must include the dates and locations of your vacation. Also, the court order must be in writing so that you can bring it with you wherever you go on your travel, in case it is requested by border patrol or other officials.
Some custody and visitation orders already place limits and restrictions on when you can leave the state or country with the child. Thus, you must look closely at your child custody order. If there are restrictions, you must request the court for special permission to travel.
What do I do if the other parent kidnaps my child and leaves the country?
There are many things you can do to prepare for this situation. First, keep a record of all the addresses and phone numbers of the other parent’s relatives. In addition, keep other important information about the other parent, such as passport information, social security number, bank accounts, driver’s license numbers, etc. Lastly, keep updated photos of both your child and the other parent for the authorities to refer.
If the child is kidnapped and brought to another country, you can seek help from the U.S. State Department. Many countries are signatories to the Hague Convention, which is an international treaty in regards to child abductions. Under the Hague Convention, all parties to the convention have agreed that if a child, who is a resident of a country that signed the convention, is removed to another country that also signed the agreement, in violation of a child custody or visitation order, the child must be promptly returned to the country of residence.
If you fear your child is being abducted, please speak with an experienced child custody attorney immediately.
What do I have to do to modify an existing child custody order to obtain more time with my child?
If an existing child custody order exists, there are two ways to modify the child custody order. First, you and the other parent can agree to modify the current child custody order. The other way is for you or the other parent to request the court to modify the current child custody order. In these situations, the court uses the “changed circumstances” test. This requires “a threshold showing of detriment before the court may modify an existing final custody order that was previously based on the child’s best interest” (Ragghanti v. Reyes (2004), 20 Cal.App.4 989, 20 Cal. Rptr.3d 522). Thus, if you are not the primary custodial parent and would want to have more time with your child, you must show that there has been a significant change that requires a modification in the current custody order that would serve the best interest of your child.
How can I find an experienced child custody attorney in Southern California to assist me?
Child custody cases are very complicated and difficult for all parties involved. It is important to have an experienced child custody attorney fighting for you. The skilled child custody attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have won many child custody cases for over 30 years. We have the knowledge and experience you need to help you achieve the best possible result in your case.
With offices located throughout the Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties, we are available for you wherever you happen to live. To consult with a Wallin & Klarich attorney today, please call us at (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.