San Clemente Child Custody Lawyer

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San Clemente Child Custody Attorney

For most parents, there is nothing more important than their children. However, that level of love and care can make child custody a challenging legal topic. Even though both parents and the courts most often want an outcome that will be right for the child, it’s easy for the situation to turn tense and contentious. This dynamic is part of what makes a San Clemente child custody lawyer a critical help for parents trying to manage custody issues.

With all of the strong emotions involved in child custody cases, it’s important that you hire someone who can give clear advice and understand legal nuances. At Cianci Law, PC, we make sure our clients hear an honest assessment of their situation and fully understand the legal options available to them based on the expert understanding of our Certified Family Law Specialists.

However, we pair the legal side of the case with a sensitivity and compassionate understanding of the difficult emotional burden these circumstances place on parents.

San Clemente Child Custody Lawyer

How Is Child Custody Described in California?

Child custody issues arise when the parents of a child don’t live together. In many cases, this means child custody is a part of the divorce process, but it may also be applicable to parents who never married and are no longer together. There are two aspects of custody that need to be decided. They are:

  • Physical Custody. This refers to the aspect of custody related to where the child will physically be. This includes living arrangements, time spent with parents routinely, holidays, and visitation parameters.
  • Legal or Decision-Making Custody. This type of custody refers to the role of a parent in making important choices regarding a child and their life. This establishes who is able to make decisions regarding medical treatment, education, religious upbringing, and other important issues.

Sole vs. Joint Custody

When either aspect of custody is described, there are two ways that it may be defined:

  • Sole Custody. This is where one parent has full custody of the child. This doesn’t mean that there may not be some level of visitation allowed in the case of physical custody, but it does mean that the other parent is primarily responsible for the physical living location and day-to-day arrangements.
  • Joint Custody. This is awarded when the parents split the custody responsibilities. While this may not always result in a perfect 50-50 arrangement, the idea is to get relatively close to that dynamic. Joint custody is often the first choice of the family court as long as neither parent is deemed unfit to care for their child.

The different aspects of custody may be defined differently. For instance, there are many circumstances in which the court may choose to give one of the parents sole physical custody primarily because there is no way for the other parent to make a joint arrangement work due to logistical issues.

However, in many of these situations, joint legal custody may still be awarded, meaning the other parent will have just as much of a right in the decision-making process as the parent with sole physical custody.

How Is Child Custody Determined in California?

There are a couple of different ways that child custody can be determined in California. One is that the court can decide, and the other is that the parents can come to an agreement.

In many cases, particularly when the child custody decision is a part of a divorce and the broader separation agreement involved with that process, the parents will try to negotiate some sort of child custody arrangement. This generally gives the parents more control and influence over the situation rather than leaving it entirely in the hands of the court.

Even when parents negotiate an agreement, the court will need to sign off on what’s been decided to be sure that it fits within the legal parameters of what’s acceptable. In cases where the parents can’t reach an agreement, a judge will decide on a custody order that meets the requirements of the law.

The guiding principle for what makes an acceptable agreement is that it satisfies the best interests of the child. To determine what’s in the child’s interests, the judge will consider a variety of factors, including:

  • The age and maturity of the child
  • The health and safety of the child
  • How well each parent is able to provide for the child
  • The child’s present relationship with each parent
  • The family history of how caregiving responsibilities have been handled
  • How willing a parent is to try to encourage a relationship with the other parent
  • Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence
  • The child’s preferences will also be considered if the judge believes they are of sufficient age and maturity to influence the decision.

What a San Clemente Child Custody Lawyer Can Help With

In San Clemente, a child custody lawyer can provide help to parents in a number of ways. They have an understanding of the relevant laws and how courts can be expected to look at different issues. This allows them to provide their clients with advice and to inform them of the impact of proceeding forward in different ways.

It also allows them to help set expectations, which can be critical to processing the emotional side of child custody. It’s easier not to let your emotions get out of hand if you understand the range of likely outcomes.

They also can provide critical legal help for their clients. They have experience working on these issues and understand how a case should be presented to have its strongest impact before the court or in negotiations. As your representative and advocate, it’s your custody attorney’s job to give you a formidable chance of having your interests met either before a judge or in negotiations with the other parent’s lawyer.


Q: Can a Child Choose Which Parent They Want to Live With in California?

A: In California, minor children will not be able to decide which parent they will live with. However, this doesn’t mean that they may not have some influence on the situation and the decision. The judge may listen to a child’s preference when making a custody decision. While the judge is required to decide what’s in the child’s interest, that preference may factor into the decision so long as the judge believes the child has reached sufficient age and maturity.

Q: Can Custody Orders Be Changed?

A: It is possible to have custody orders changed once they have been issued in San Clemente, CA. However, it does require showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that changing the custody orders would be in the child’s interests. The process involves petitioning the court to have a hearing on the matter and then arguing for modifications. Whether you are seeking changes or defending against them, it can be critical to have a lawyer who can make your strongest case in the petition and the hearing.

Q: What Happens if One Parent Prevents the Other From Having Visitation Mandated by Court Orders?

A: It’s the expectation of the court that both parents will adhere to the custody orders that are given. This means that if the court has ordered visitation or time the child should have with the other parent, that needs to be honored. Refusing to do so is taken seriously by the court. It can be grounds to modify the custody orders and, in some cases, may lead the parent who failed to allow the visitation to lose custody altogether.

Q: At What Age Can a Child Refuse to See a Parent in California?

A: So long as the child is a minor, they can’t necessarily refuse to see their other parent. However, there are some circumstances where, if the child is old enough and mature enough, the judge can consider the child’s wishes in a custody ruling. They may decide to remove visitation if there is a good reason to do so. The court must choose what it believes to be in the child’s interests, and in most cases, this means trying to encourage a meaningful relationship with both parents.

Creative Family Solutions Helps Parents Fight for Their Children

At Cianci Law, PC, we understand just how critical child custody issues are for the parents of the children involved. Therefore, we respect the array of emotions and feelings that are brought up with this issue. Our clients can count on help that is cognizant of those emotions and the raw feelings you may have throughout the process. We try to ensure that our clients feel well-informed and prepared to face the potential outcomes of a child custody order.

The care that we provide must be paired with outstanding legal help. Family law issues, such as child custody, are our specialty, and our Certified Family Law Specialists can provide expert guidance. For parents looking for a deep understanding of family law paired with the compassionate care that the situation requires, Cianci Law, PC, is prepared to help. Contact our team today to discuss your child custody situation.

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