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La Jolla Child Custody and Visitation Attorneys

Representing Parents in La Jolla Child Custody and Visitation Matters

When a divorce or separation involves minor children, two of the most important matters to resolve are child custody and visitation. The parents must agree, or the court must decide who has legal and physical custody and how much time each parent spends with the child. A skilled La Jolla child custody and visitation lawyer can help protect the best interest of your child and your parental rights.

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What Is the Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody?

There are two types of child custody in La Jolla and the state of California:

  • Legal custody: This refers to the right of parents to make legal decisions for the child. Legal custody can be sole (granted to one parent only) or joint (shared between both parents). When parents have joint legal custody, they must agree on important decisions, such as where the child goes to school and what medical treatment the child will receive. If they cannot agree, the court must intervene.
  • Physical custody: This term refers to the parent’s household where the child lives. Like legal custody, physical custody can be sole or joint. With joint physical custody, the child lives with both parents at different times in different households. With sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent typically has visitation rights.

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How Do Family Court Judges Decide on Child Custody?

The top priority of family courts in matters concerning children is the best interests of the child. Judges will consider various factors in determining how custody should be awarded, including:

  • Child’s age
  • Child’s health and physical needs
  • Ability of each parent to care for the child
  • Emotional relationship the child has with each parent
  • Where the child goes to school
  • Child’s involvement in the community
  • Impact a change in status quo would have on the child
  • Prior custodial arrangements for siblings
  • Financial situation of each parent
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse for either parent

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How Do Visitation Agreements Work? Do Children Have a Say?

The parent who does not have primary custody will usually have visitation rights. Children ages 14 and older may have a say in visitation arrangements, provided they have the intelligence and emotional capacity for a reasonable preference. If the child is under the age of 14 and wishes to express custody or visitation preferences, it may be allowed at the discretion of the court if it is in the child’s best interests.

The four types of visitation agreements in La Jolla are:

  • Scheduled visitation: A set schedule for visitation is established to avoid conflict and confusion.
  • Reasonable visitation: Parents can agree on a flexible visitation schedule, based on the child’s schedule and their own.
  • Supervised visitation: The court may order supervised visitation if the safety and well-being of the child under the supervision of one parent is in question. It may be ordered if a parent has a history of drug use, abuse, or neglect, or any behavior that could endanger the child.
  • No visitation: If the court determines that the child’s emotional or physical safety is in question, it may issue a no visitation order.

Nothing is more important than the welfare of your children. If you are going through divorce or separation, an experienced La Jolla family law attorney may be able to help you achieve a better outcome in court.

At Mattis Law, A.P.C., we pride ourselves on our ability to handle the most complex divorce and child custody matters, as well as simple cases. Our number one priority is to protect our clients’ interests and fight for their wishes. Contact us at (858) 328-4400.

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(858) 328-4400