ORANGE COUNTY CHILD CUSTODY
When a couple divorces in Orange County, they will need to prepare a plan for where their children will live, and how they will divide their time between their parents. Unfortunately, divorcing couples do not always agree on what is best for their children in this regard. Among the many matters a court can address for a divorcing couple, child custody is often one of the most emotionally fraught issues.
The results-oriented Orange County child custody attorneys at Brown & Dahan will work to obtain the child custody arrangement that is in your child’s best interest. We understand the difficulties that child custody decisions can involve for all parties, and we also have extensive knowledge of this complex area of the law. At Brown & Dahan, we are dedicated to helping you assert your legal rights, and achieving the most positive outcome possible for you and your family.
OPTIONS FOR CHILD CUSTODY
Physical custody of children can be either sole or joint. Usually courts presume that joint custody (where the children have frequent contact with both parents) is in the child’s best interest. Joint custody can encompass agreements where a child alternates one-week periods between spouses, or where a child spends three days of the week with one parent and four days of the week with the other. However, there are also situations where sole physical custody is in a child’s best interest. “Sole physical custody” can comprise a variety of living arrangements. For example, it may mean one parent does not have any visitation, or it may mean that a parent with visitation has contact every weekend or something in between.
It is important to keep in mind that legal custody is different from physical custody. A parent with legal custody has the ability to make decisions related to a child’s welfare, education, and health. Rarely does a court award one parent sole legal custody.
FACTORS CONSIDERED BY THE COURT IN DETERMINING CUSTODY
A court in Orange County will consider all factors in a child and parent’s history in determining a child custody arrangement. If the child is over the age of 12 and mature, the court will consider where the child wants to live.
Other factors the court will consider include stability, health, parental lifestyle, second-hand smoke, domestic violence, drug use, emotional bonds, established living pattern (e.g. where the child’s school or community is), alcohol abuse, impact on the child of changing the existing arrangements, and which parent is likely to encourage visits with the other parent. If one parent has been the child’s primary caregiver and there are no negative factors related to that parent’s caretaking, this fact can be very influential in the court’s decision.
If you are a parent seeking sole custody, you should be aware that a family court may consider prior drug or DUI convictions or order drug testing before making a decision about custody. While a positive result or prior conviction does not necessarily mean the other parent will be granted custody, it can be a factor in the judge’s decision. Similarly, domestic violence can be a big factor in a judge’s decision. Mitigating factors if a parent has been accused of domestic violence include: completing a treatment program, completing a parenting class, or demonstrating how much time has passed since the accusations of domestic violence.
HELPING YOU ADVOCATE FOR YOUR FAMILY
The knowledgeable Orange County family law attorneys at Brown & Dahan can evaluate your case, and develop a strategy for presenting your child custody argument either in court, or in an out-of-court dispute resolution setting. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, we can help you advocate for the arrangement that is in your children’s best interests, using our substantial background as negotiators as well as trial attorneys. Contact our office at (949) 724-8857 or by using our online form to discuss your case today.