Lake Forest Child Custody Lawyer

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Lake Forest Child Custody Lawyer Attorney

A child custody determination is an incredibly difficult part of any family’s life. Even when both parents are attempting to work together for their child’s interests, emotions and stress are high. This process can be easier to manage with the mediation or advocacy of a Lake Forest child custody lawyer. By working with a skilled family law attorney, you can create a parenting plan that effectively cares for your child’s needs, or you can present your family’s needs to the court.

Lake Forest Child Custody Lawyer

Experienced Child Custody Attorneys in Lake Forest

Not every custody case is decided by the court. A skilled attorney can mediate or represent you in negotiations with your co-parent out of court. Unfortunately, this is not possible for every family. When your child custody case is determined by a family law judge, it can be overwhelming that this important decision in your family’s life is not in your control. Your attorney can help you build a case to show the judge what is in your child’s interests.

At Cianci Law, PC, our team has worked for years in many aspects of family law, including child custody cases in and out of court. Melissa Cianci is a Certified Family Law Specialist with years of experience helping families navigate complex family law cases. Our law firm has a team of qualified attorneys who can support and guide you as you file for custody, create a parenting plan with your co-parent, and determine your child’s needs and interests.

The Types of Child Custody in Lake Forest

The state has two main types of custody that are determined in a child custody case. This is true whether the custody case is part of a divorce, unmarried parental separation, or paternity case. In a custody case, parents can determine both types of custody themselves in a parenting plan and then present it to the family court for approval.

The court prefers parents to work together on a parenting plan, as this allows parents more control over the outcome. However, the court will only approve the agreement if it is in a child’s interests. This includes each parent having a significant role in their child’s life. If parents can’t reach an agreement in their child’s interests, the court will make the decisions on custody for them.

The two types of custody are:

  1. Legal Custody: Legal custody is the ability of a parent to make essential decisions about their child’s life. This includes decisions about education, medical care, and religious upbringing. It’s very common for parents to have joint legal custody, meaning that they must make these important decisions together. For the court to grant sole legal custody to one parent, the other parent would have to be considered unfit to make these decisions for their child.
  2. Physical Custody: Physical custody determines where a child lives and spends their time. This includes both where a child resides and how visitation, or parenting time, is allocated. Typically, parents have joint custody, split as equally as possible, or sole custody, with the noncustodial parent given generous visitation rights. In rare situations, one parent may be allowed limited, supervised, or even no visitation rights.

The court will look at several factors to determine if a proposed parenting plan is in a child’s interests or if it needs to create a parenting plan itself. This includes:

  • The health of the child and each parent
  • The age of the child
  • The child’s wishes
  • The general ability and fitness of each parent to care for the child

One of the most common arrangements is joint legal custody with an unequal split of physical custody. When you work with a child custody attorney in Lake Forest, CA, they can help you determine whether it is more beneficial for your scenario to negotiate a parenting plan or let the court decide. Your attorney can vigorously fight for your goals and the interests of your family.


Q: Who Pays Attorney Fees in Child Custody Cases in California?

A: In most child custody cases, each parent will pay their own legal and attorney fees. However, there are some cases where the court can order one parent to pay the other parent’s legal fees. This is done if one parent can’t afford an attorney or can afford one but has significantly less money than the other parent. The parent who needs financial aid can request that the court order this payment prior to hiring an attorney.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Fight for Custody in California?

A: Child custody costs in Lake Forest, California depend on many different factors, and the final toll may range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. A custody case involves court filing fees, which can sometimes be waived, and attorney fees. A family law attorney typically charges an hourly rate, and this rate depends on the attorney’s experience, qualifications, and the complexity of your child custody situation. A custody case that is settled through mediation will be less expensive than a litigated one.

Q: How Is Child Custody Determined in California?

A: Child custody is decided based on the interests of the child. To determine this, the court will look at several factors, including:

  • The child’s age and health
  • The existing relationship between each parent and the child
  • The child’s connection to their home, school, and surrounding community
  • The ability and general fitness of each parent to care for the child, including their income, health, work schedule, and living space
  • Whether there is ongoing substance abuse by either parent
  • A history of family violence
  • The wishes of the child

Q: Is California a 50/50 Custody State?

A: California family courts do not have a legal preference for 50/50 custody, but they often prefer joint custody arrangements. A joint custody agreement is usually considered to be in the child’s interests, as it maintains their relationship with each parent.

However, for practical reasons, parents with a joint custody arrangement may not have a perfect 50/50 split. Instead, parents can determine a fair and manageable parenting plan with the help of a mediator. As long as each parent has significant parenting time with the child, the court will likely approve the agreement.

Supporting Your Family Through a Lake Forest Custody Case

A child custody determination can be hard on parents and their children, but it is essential to navigate the situation with care and success. Every family’s situation is unique, requiring a professional and adaptive approach. Contact Cianci Law, PC, for skilled, transparent, and effective legal representation in your child custody determination.

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