Some of the most important legal matters are child custody and support cases. Child custody cases determine what matters to us most – our family. California’s child support system is complex. It’s important to carefully prepare the evidence so that the court can learn the truth about the case and make the best decisions for the children.
California courts determine custody based on the best interests of the children. It’s up to you to present the evidence that backs up how you think that the court should decide custody and support. You may need to testify about the children and their needs. You can call the relevant teachers, physicians and psychologists in order to talk about the children and their parents. You may present the court with copies of correspondence from the other parent, a criminal record of the other parent or proof of substance abuse.
When the court decides your custody and support case, they have three decisions to make. The first decision is whether to award the parents joint legal custody. Legal custody is the right to control the big decisions about the children’s upbringing. This might include where a child goes to school, their medical care, and the other big decisions. If the court thinks it’s best for the children, they can allow both parents to share decision-making authority. Otherwise, they award legal custody to one parent.
A parent with legal custody may or may not also have physical custody. When a parent has physical custody, it means that they have a significant amount of parenting time. Parenting time doesn’t have to be exactly equal for parents to have joint custody. It just has to be enough that the child looks to the parent to meet their everyday needs. Even if the parents don’t share physical custody, in most cases, each parent has at least some time with the children.
Finally, the court determines a parenting time schedule. This is the set schedule that each parent has with the child. It might depend on the work schedules of the parents. It may depend on the special needs of the child or the distance between the parents. You must show the judge why you think a certain parenting time schedule is the most appropriate.
Child support can be a difficult question. Although there’s a formula to determine child support, it only gives an accurate result if you perform the correct calculations based on the true incomes of the parties. Child support can become a contentious matter when one of the parents is self-employed or tries to hide income from the court. At Gomez Edwards Law Group, we work to make sure that the court makes a fair determination of support based on the true incomes of the parties.
Custody and support are interrelated in that the more time you spend with the children, the more of the money for the children goes to your household. However, the court determines child custody based on what’s in the best interests of the child. The court shouldn’t and won’t base its decisions for custody and parenting time based on how it might impact child support for the parents. In addition, a parent can’t withhold parenting time if the other parent fails to pay support.
At Gomez Edwards Law Group, our goal is to help our clients understand the law and use it for the best interests of their children. If you have a custody and support matter, we invite you to contact us. Our many satisfied clients know that we help every client fight for their children and present their case to help the court see the truth and act in the children’s best interests.