Representing Parents in Orange County Child Visitation Cases
Orange County Child Visitation Lawyer
Making the choice to divorce is rarely easy, even when spouses reach a mutual decision to end their marriage. Once the decision is made and the formal process of divorce begins, the challenges continue—especially for those with children. Divorcing parents may struggle to help their children understand what is happening to their family. Further, the idea of losing even a small amount of time with their children can be incredibly distressing for any parent.
The Law Office of Stacy L. Campuzano can provide the legal representation divorcing parents need when determining custody of their children. Our child custody attorneys understand how difficult these situations can be, as well as the importance of reaching a custody and visitation determination that serves the child’s best interests. We can provide the family law representation you need to approach your child custody determination with confidence.
Custody Vs. Visitation
The process of determining child custody and visitation is one of the most important and most emotionally challenging aspects of a divorce. Although the two terms are often used together and decided concurrently, child custody and visitation are not equivalent terms. “Child custody” describes a parent’s right to make major decisions for their children and refers to where the children spend their time. “Visitation” often occurs when one parent has sole custody, and the other parent is only allowed to visit with their children under certain conditions.
When the Orange County family court system must make a legal decision regarding child custody, the court must assess the fitness of each of the parents to determine a custody arrangement that will suit the child’s best interests. In most cases, the court upholds that a child is best served by having equal access to both of their parents as long as both are safe and capable providers. As such, it is possible for divorcing parents to reach a joint custody agreement if the court determines they are both fit parents. However, if the court determines that one parent should not be trusted with custody, the best they can hope to receive are visitation rights.
How Much Does a Child Custody Lawyer Cost in California?
If you are concerned about the potential cost of your attorneys’ fees, it is essential to ensure you fully understand the attorney’s billing policy before you sign a contract agreeing to their legal services. Most Santa Ana child visitation lawyers charge hourly rates divided into ten- or fifteen-minute increments. The more time your attorney spends actively working on your case, the more expensive their total legal fees will become.
At the Law Office of Stacy L. Campuzano, you can expect honesty and transparency when it comes to our billing policies. Before you agree to our legal services, we will thoroughly explain our rate schedule and the projected timetable for handling your case. It is essential you make the most informed decision you can regarding your legal counsel for your child visitation case.
How Are Child Custody and Visitation Determined in California?
Whether you are preparing to divorce your child’s other parent or you and your unmarried partner decide that you no longer wish to carry on cohabiting, you must utilize Orange County family court to determine custody of your child. The Orange County family court system has a legal obligation to ensure that any child custody determination suits the best interests of the children it will impact. When a judge reviews your situation to determine child custody, they will assess several crucial factors, including:
- The income of each parent. This factor will also influence the eventual child support determination.
- The availability of each parent to provide daily care for their children. If one parent earns a high salary but has a demanding job that requires a great deal of travel, the court may prefer to grant greater physical custody to the other parent.
- The education and job prospects of each parent. The court must ensure that custodial parents have the competence and awareness necessary to safely raise their children, as well as the financial ability to continue doing so.
- Each parent’s criminal history, especially if either of them has any record of domestic violence or child abuse. However, any record of criminal activity can reflect poorly on a parent in a child visitation determination.
- The ages of the children. Younger children require much more hands-on parenting than older children and teenagers.
- The overall health and mental wellbeing of each parent. The court must ensure custodial parents are medically capable of handling the responsibilities of parenthood.
- The parents’ willingness to communicate with one another regarding their children.
- Preexisting custody rights. If one parent already has a custody agreement for a child from a previous relationship, the court must take this into account.
- The history of each parent’s involvement with their child’s life, including sporting events, school events, social events, and medical appointments.
- The intended living spaces of each parent and their proximity to the child’s school, doctor, and other relatives. The court may adjust a custody determination based on where the parents intend to live after a divorce and how easy it will be for the parents to manage transportation for the children’s needs.
- The potential impact of the custody agreement on the child’s day-to-day schedule. Typically, the Orange County family court prefers to award custody agreements that minimize disruption to a child’s everyday life.
- Each parent’s history of substance abuse. Those who suffer from substance abuse may not be capable of providing a safe environment for their children.
- The wishes of the child (if the child is old enough to provide a compelling statement).
As indicated, determining child custody is an extraordinarily complex process, and it is not uncommon for parents to feel as though the system is unfair to them. However, the determination process exists so the court can deliver a ruling that aligns with the best interests of the child.
In some cases, it is possible for the court to determine that one parent is not fit for custody—often, the parent is allowed visitation under specific circumstances. In this situation, it is crucial for both parents to abide by the terms of the visitation agreement. The court may indicate unsupervised visitation for an allotted time per week or per month, supervised visitation with the custodial parent, or supervised visitation under more controlled circumstances with a court official overseeing each visitation session.
At What Age Can a Child Refuse Visitation in California?
Divorce and child custody determinations can easily cause significant rifts between family members. Disagreements often occur between divorcing spouses, but rifts can also arise between parents and their children.
When such a rift occurs, a child may decide they do not want to visit with their noncustodial parent. However, they may only refuse visitation under certain conditions. In California, only a minor age 16 or older has the right to refuse visitation with their noncustodial parent unless a court order states otherwise.
How Can I Change My Existing Visitation Order?
The family court system in Orange County aims to ensure that all custody and visitation agreements suit the best interests of the children they affect. However, the court understands that life is unpredictable, and circumstances may change unexpectedly. In the event you experience a significant life change like a severe illness or injury, loss of a job, or a natural disaster, it is possible to petition the Orange County family court for a modification to your existing visitation order.
Post-judgment modification does not require an overly involved series of court proceedings, but most individuals can still benefit from the assistance of a family law attorney. First, the party requesting a change to their visitation order must submit a petition to the Orange County family court that describes their requested change and their justification for seeking the change. The court determines whether the petition is reasonable and will set a hearing date if the petition holds significant merit. During this hearing, both parties will be able to personally address the issue at hand. If the petition is reasonable, the other party may agree to it outright or with minimal argument. More complex and demanding petitions will likely lead to more extensive determination proceedings.
If you currently have a visitation order and want to petition the court for expanded parental rights, it is essential to work with an experienced Orange County child visitation attorney. Depending on the reason you were denied custody initially, securing expanded parental rights in the future may or may not be an option. Your attorney will help you assess your situation and determine the best approach to secure the changes you seek.
What Can an Orange County Child Visitation Do for Me?
Navigating any family law matter without the guidance of an attorney can be incredibly challenging. In particular, it is vital to secure legal counsel you can trust for any type of child visitation proceeding. Working with a diligent and responsive Orange County child visitation attorney can help you approach your case with greater confidence.
At the Law Office of Stacy L. Campuzano, we can provide the compassionate legal services you need to reach a favorable child visitation determination. Whether you are preparing for divorce, facing an initial child custody determination, or trying to secure expanded parental rights beyond your current visitation order, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Orange County child visitation attorney.