Child Custody

Have Questions About Child Custody?

Our Santa Clara Child Custody Attorneys Fight for Your Custody Rights

No other family law issue is more stressful and emotional than child custody matters. Married and unmarried parents alike may fight for their right to obtain custody of their children when their relationship takes a turn for the worse. It is best when parents can agree on a parenting plan, however, many simply cannot. If informal negotiations and family law mediation prove ineffective, then the court may eventually decide on child custody and support arrangements. The judge will inquire into the best interests of the children when a custody issue is brought before the court. It is in your best interests and the best interests of your children to consult a family law attorney when you are involved in a child custody dispute. A lawyer can help ensure that all pertinent information is considered and can help you fight for your right to custody.

Gomez Edwards Law Group, LLP approaches each child custody case with compassion and support for our clients. We will explain the differences in custody and visitation as they apply to your case. Our Santa Clara child custody attorneys clarify issues, evaluate the facts and circumstances pertaining to custody, and back their strategy with the best interests of your children.

How Is Child Custody Decided?

During divorce proceedings, you and your former partner are free to agree on a parenting plan. If you agree on custody terms, then you may file stipulation, which is an agreement between the parties, with the court. The judge will then adopt the stipulation and make it an enforceable order.

However, if you cannot agree, then the parent requesting a custody determination must file a Request for Order along with several other parentage forms. The clerk of the court will set a hearing date if the alleged father contests parentage. The alleged father and his alleged children may be ordered to undergo DNA testing to determine parentage.

Then, you must generally attend mediation to try to resolve your child custody issues out of court. The family services department of the family court that has jurisdiction of the case usually conducts child custody mediation. Still, in some circumstances, the court may order private mediation. The goal of mediation is to facilitate a custody agreement between the parents. The mediator will make a recommendation to the court if you still cannot reach an agreement. The court takes this recommendation into consideration when determining what is in best interests of the children.

Finally, if all else fails, then the court will decide on child custody arrangements and issue an order. Many people are under the impression that a court will favor a mother over a father in a custody battle. However, this is simply not the case anymore. The California Family Code specifically entitles each parent to frequent and continuing contact.

Additionally, child custody orders are not permanent. The court can modify custody and visitation agreements if your circumstances change.

What Factors Determine Child Custody in California?

Before making a ruling on child custody matters, the judge will consider the recommendation of the mediator as well as:

  • The age, sex, and physical and mental health of the children.
  • The physical and mental health of each parent.
  • Lifestyle choice of each parent, such as the child’s exposure to secondhand smoke and any history of child abuse.
  • Emotional bonds between the parents and children, and each parent’s ability to give appropriate child guidance.
  • The ability of each parent to provide food, shelter, clothing and medical care to the children.
  • The established living pattern of the children.
  • Current educational setting of the children.
  • The status quo, meaning would keeping the children’s current schedule be in their best interests?
  • The preference of the children, depending on their age.

When the balancing of these factors does not favor either parent, then the court focuses on who can provide the most stable environment. A family court judge will also look to which parent will most support the children’s relationship with the other parent. When the case involves young children, then the primary caregiver plays a crucial role in custody determinations. The court also has the authority to award 50/50 physical custody, when this arrangement is best.

Child Custody Issues? Contact Our Santa Clara Child Custody Attorneys

Gomez Edwards Law Group, LLP is a family law firm that represents individuals to establish child custody and modifications. Our lawyers have experience representing petitioners and respondents in child custody matters. We can help prepare you for mediation, draft stipulations, and represent you in court. We regularly represent parents filing for or contesting child custody or visitation in Santa Clara. Contact our office at 408-413-1200 or fill out an online case review form to schedule a consultation with a child custody attorney.