Child Custody Attorney Referral Service

What is the legal process involved arranging for child custody?

To start a child custody case, you must already have an open case in California family court. Usually, a family will have an open case in the event of a divorce, separation, or annulment, if there has been a domestic violence restraining order, or if there is already a petition for custody and support of minor children.

There is no one-size-fits-all legal process for child custody as the process will vary based on what the familial situation is. The best approach is to consult with a child custody attorney who can look at the facts specific to your situation and advise you on the best course of action for pursuing custody of your child or children.

What factors determine levels of custody?

There are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody, or who makes decisions for the children, can further be broken down into two categories: joint custody, where both parents make important decisions regarding the children, and sole custody, where only one parent makes important decisions regarding the children.

Physical custody regards with whom the child or children live. Physical custody can also be joint or sole. If sole physical custody is awarded to one parent, typically the other parent will have visitation rights.

In California, child custody is determined using a set of factors. These factors include:

  • The best interests of the children or children, which is considered to be the most important
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage frequent visits with the other parent
  • The child’s wishes, which can only be considered if the child is of a certain age and maturity level
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Any history of drug use

In terms of domestic violence and drug use, California family courts can do several things.

For drug use, a California court can order a parent or another individual seeking custody of the child or children to submit to drug testing for illegal drugs. This is done before custody is determined.

If the results of the drug test are positive, this is not conclusive evidence against granting custody. Additionally, if the parent seeking custody has been convicted of a drug crime in the past five years, or if there is evidence of frequent drug use, the court will consider these factors before making a custody determination.

If there is a history of domestic violence, California courts will generally prefer not to allow that parent to have custody. Relevant domestic violence is:

  • Abuse of the child’s other parent
  • Abuse of the child
  • Abuse of the child’s siblings

Positive steps towards rehabilitating a history of domestic violence will be considered by the court. Factors include:

  • Whether the parent has successfully completed a batterer’s treatment program;
  • Whether the parent has successfully completed a class on parenting;
  • Whether there is an order of protection in place to protect the victim;
  • Whether any further acts of domestic violence have been committed by the accused.

Overall, California family courts prefer to allow parents to share custody. Joint custody is thought to be in the best interests of the child and preferable to awarding sole custody to one parent.

How do I choose the right attorney to help me fight for child custody?

Researching attorneys who have experience in handling family law cases, specifically those involving child custody, is the first step to choosing the right attorney to help you fight for child custody. Our referral service has a list of experience family law attorneys who have results to back up their proficiency.

Finding the right child custody lawyer seems daunting, but it really is not. Using the SFVBA referral service will help you secure a child custody attorney who is right for you and your particular situation. We have qualified, professional, and competent attorneys in your area that who be available to help you. Call us today (818) 340-4529 for your free consultation.