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Mother & Daughter Legal Team With 65 years of combined experience, you can trust that your case is in good hands.

Torrance Child Custody Lawyer

How Is Child Custody Determined in California?

When a judge determines child custody in California, the primary consideration is the best interests of the child. There are various factors used to decide this including:

  • Health and safety of the child – This includes living environment, parental capabilities, etc.
  • Child’s preference – If the judge believes the child is mature enough to have a preference, then that will be considered.
  • Parental cooperation – It is ideal if the parents can work together without trying to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child.
  • Stability of the child – If possible, the judge will not want to pull the child from their normal routines and environment. Ideally, the child will stay with the primary caregiver. Additionally, the judge will strive to keep any siblings together.

Our Torrance child custody lawyers can help you navigate the intricacies of California family law. These cases can be complex, particularly when the best interests of your child are at stake and numerous issues can affect a final custody decision. It is important to ensure that your child's rights are not sacrificed because one parent wants time with the child.

We handle many factors that can impact a custody arrangement, such as:

Unfortunately, many of the above issues can also become problematic following divorce, which may create a need for one parent's custody rights to get taken away. We can represent you in these matters, as well, and can help protect what matters most to you – your child.

Do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions.

What Are my Custody Rights as a Mother?

As a primary rule, any mother that isn't married will be awarded primary custody of the child. This essentially means that they are responsible for the following:

  • A safe home.
  • The education of the child, which means choosing an appropriate school as well as ensuring that they have the transportation to get there.
  • Any healthcare the child may need.
  • Extracurricular activities

Be aware, that if the father is able to establish paternity, he then will have the opportunity to make these decisions with you.

Are you facing a child custody dispute? Do you have questions about your parental rights? You need to work with a custody lawyer who understands how weighty these matters are. At Patricia Barberis, A Law Corporation, you are never just a case number in our eyes. We care about each client individually and treat them as if they were lifelong friends of ours.

Who Has Custody of a Child When the Parents Are Not Married in CA?

By California law, any unwed mother is automatically awarded sole custody of their child. This is under California Family Code Section 7610. Unless the court files an order against the mother, she will be able to determine and arrange the amount of contact the father has with the child. Keep in mind, if the father establishes paternity, then he will have the same rights to making decisions for the child as the mother would.

We are prepared to deliver compassionate counsel to help you determine your child's best interests. While we will work to achieve an amicable agreement on child custody, we are ready if need be to mount a fierce defense of you and your child's rights. Do not hesitate to find out how we are qualified to help you and your family.

Legal Custody and Physical Custody of Your Child

The life of your child should be delicately balanced, to say the least, and cannot be approached as if it were only a single-sided issue. To this end, there are actually two distinct types of child custody in California: legal custody and physical custody. Depending on your living situation, the best interests of your child, and your ex-spouse’s own circumstances, you could win rights to one, both, or neither forms of custody.

  • Legal custody - The parent who is granted legal custody is permitted to make important life decisions for your children, such as where they should go to school, what religious upbringing they follow, and how their health is monitored and maintained.
  • Physical custody - This is more straightforward but no less important – physical custody determines where your children live. If you win sole physical custody, they will live only with you and visit your ex. Joint physical custody typically splits their living situation in half, one way or another, or as close to evenly as possible.

Child Custody Order Modifications and Enforcement

If necessary, we can also guide you through the process of modifying your child custody order. As a child's needs are always changing as they grow, it is wise to reevaluate your custody orders on a yearly basis. A Torrance divorce lawyer can help you review the custody order to make sure it still serves the best interests of your children.

For a court order to be modified, you will need to show that a significant change in circumstances.

Enforcing court orders is a different situation altogether. Sometimes an order is broken inadvertently, perhaps due to unclear specifications in the agreement. Your spouse might come to your child’s birthday party, unaware that they were barred from doing so, for example. Other times, the problem could be more serious, such as your spouse intentionally disregarding the regulations.

If the other parent of your child refused to follow child custody orders, you may have to:

  • Contact your child custody lawyer.
  • Notify law enforcement officials and request assistance.
  • Create a contempt action through the legal system.

When all is said and done, the proper enforcement is critical for everyone’s safety and happiness. If you are experiencing troubles with your ex-spouse and how they are disrespecting custody orders, do not hesitate to seek help.

Child Custody FAQs

  • What are the different types of child custody in California? - There are two different types of child custody that are parent can seek over his or her child: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody decides which parent the child will live with. Meanwhile, legal custody establishes how much decision-making power each parent has in the child's life. These decisions usually pertain to things like the childcare, the child's medical treatment, education, involvement in extra-curricular activities, travel, etc.
  • What are the different types of physical custody? - If a parent has sole physical custody, the child lives with that parent her 100% of the time. If the parent has primary custody, this means that the child lives with that parent most of the time, with the other parent getting visitation rights. When the child switches off living with both parents and spends a significant amount of time with each one, the parents have joint physical custody.
  • What are the different types of legal custody? - If both parents make important decisions in the child's life, they have joint legal custody. If only one parent has authority to make such decisions, then he or she has sole legal custody. A parent can be granted joint legal custody even when he or she does not have joint physical custody.
  • Can the child decide which parent he or she wants to live with? - California law states that a child's preference of which parent to live with should be given a good amount of consideration when the child is of "sufficient age" and is able to reason intelligently. State law does not specify an age, but it does state that a child age 14 or older who wishes to address the court in a custody case should be allowed to do so (unless doing so would not be in the child's best interest). Younger children may also be allowed to speak in court, at the judge's discretion. Just because a child shares his or her preference, this does not force the court to rule in the child's favor. It is still up to the court to determine which custody arrangement is most beneficial for the child.
  • What if I need to change a custody order? - If a parent wants to change a child custody order, that person has two options: 1) reach a formal agreement with the other parent and have it approved by the court, or 2) file a petition for a modification. If a petition for modification is filed, the petitioning parent will need to prove that there was a major change in circumstances that merits the change. It will also need to be proven that this modification is best for the child's wellbeing. The court will decide whether to grant the modification after both parents present their arguments.

Child Custody Lawyers with 65 Years of Combined Experience

How are we qualified to provide the legal support you need? For one thing, Torrance divorce attorney Collen Barberis has served as a court-appointed minor's counsel, representing minors in child custody and divorce disputes. She was entrusted with determining a child's best interests, and then take the appropriate legal actions to preserve those interests.

Other reasons to team up with our Torrance child custody attorneys:

  • Our family law firm has served South Bay since 1977
  • We're a mother and daughter legal team
  • Our counsel is informed by experience as a former L.A. County mediator
  • We provide polite, personalized counsel and tenacious advocacy

Father with custody of his daughter​If a judge is making your custody order, then he or she will decide what is best for a child's "health, safety, and welfare" (California Family Code § 3020). Usually speaking, California courts favor joint custody and plans which provide adequate parenting time to both the father and the mother. There are no guarantees, however, particularly when a stranger is the one deciding your child's fate. But with the guidance of the right attorney, you could have the power to choose your custody arrangement. Whether through an uncontested divorce or mediation, we can help you and the other parent stay focused on your child's interests to create your unique parenting plan.

Contact our firm to set up an appointment with our Torrance child custody attorneys, and find out how we can stand with you to shield you and your children's rights.

Why Choose Us?

  • Mother & Daughter Legal Team

  • 65 Years of Combined Experience

  • Tenacious & Compassionate

Awards

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