Testimonials

"I woke up to a phone call from my ex spouse's attorney. I was told that I had to appear in court the following day because they were going to kick me out of my home. I found Paul online and he was able to appear in court with me the following day. It was very assuring to know that I did not have to leave my house and that my spouse was responsible for sharing the expenses in paying for our house. Thanks Paul"
- R.H.










Family Law FAQ's - Child Custody and Visitation

What is legal custody?

What is joint physical custody?

Do I need a lawyer for a custody dispute?

What is mediation?

Do I need to go to court to modify custody?

My wife/girlfriend tells me that the judge always gives custody to the mom. Is this true?

What are my rights regarding my child without a court order? Do I really need an OSC (Order to Show Cause)?



What is legal custody?
Legal custody is a concept that refers to making decisions about your child ís life. An example includes choices of doctors, school, the beginning of a new religion, and starting counseling.

Joint legal custody requires the parents to confer with each other before making the decisions. A party may act in an emergency situation without the other partyís consent. Joint legal custody is the norm. Few parents are at such extreme odd that they cannot join together to make important decisions together for their child.

For Example: Mom signs son up for therapy because he is frequently in trouble at school. Dad is against therapy and may prevent it from occurring by withholding his consent.

Sole legal custody allows one parent to make the decisions for the child without requiring communication with the other parent. Of course, the parent without legal custody rights may petition the court in the event that the decision made may be harmful or contrary to the childís best interest. Sole legal custody is usually awarded when one parent is not involved or there is high conflict in the case. BACK TO TOP

What is joint physical custody?
Joint physical custody is defined as both parents having significant time with the child. There is no fixed percentage that triggers the term; however, the term is frequently used to describe visitation schedules where one parent has 40-50% of the time with the children. Special rules apply when the parents are awarded joint physical custody. Of particular significance is one parentís right to move away with the child.

Sole physical custody is at the other end of the spectrum, One parent is labeled as the primary care giver while the other parent has the right of visitation with the child. BACK TO TOP

Do I need a lawyer for a custody dispute?
When parties are at odds, it is advisable to consult with an attorney for help in determining the schedule best for your child. An attorney can assist you with a strategy to help you maximize your success in a court proceeding with the other parent. In addition, an attorneyís familiarity with the particular judge handling your case is paramount in how your case should be presented. Finally, even if you have the best paralegal in the world to draft your legal pleadings, it is very reassuring to have a great lawyer can during the court proceeding. It is imperative to ensure that you and your lawyer are compatible. BACK TO TOP

What is mediation/conciliation?
Attendance at a mediation/conciliation appointment is required by the courts for parents requesting the courtís assistance in a parenting plan. The appointment typically lasts for an hour. A counselor invites the parents into a room either together or separately to determine if the parties can resolve their custody dispute without the courtís aid. Some counties report the interaction of the parties, and the counselor makes a recommendation to the court based on their observations. Other counties, including Los Angeles, are non-reporting counties. In these counties, all that is reported to the court is whether or not an agreement was reached. BACK TO TOP

Do I need to go to court to modify custody?
Parents can request the services of the conciliator to modify their parenting schedule. Or, if both parties are in agreement, an attorney can draft a stipulated order to modify the custody or visitation schedule. The only time that court intervention is necessary is if the parents do not agree to the change. The burden of proof in changing custody is on the party requesting the change. BACK TO TOP

My wife/girlfriend tells me that the judge always gives custody to the mom. Is this true?
The court, in awarding custody or visitation to a parent considers what is in the childís best interest. Gender should not be a consideration in making a custody determination. On an interim basis, the court looks to maintain the status quo; that is, the court will base itís order on the recent history in the parenting schedule the parents have had with the child. It is becoming more common for parents to have almost equal time with the child. BACK TO TOP

What are my rights regarding my children without a court order? Do I really need an OSC (Order to Show Cause)?
Absent a court order, both parents have an equal right to the custody of their child. An Order to Show Cause is a pleading that requests the courtís immediate attention pending the resolution of your case. Often times, divorces or paternity actions can take an excess of six months to be completed. During this time, it may be helpful to have a visitation and support schedule in place to minimize any potential confrontations with the other parent. Typical OSCs involve: Child Custody and Support, Spousal Support and Injunctive Relief. See the full range of OSC topics in Rates & Services. BACK TO TOP