Common Questions: Child Custody
Answers to common questions from our
Los Angeles child custody lawyers. Call to learn more.
Does Joint Legal Custody Mean We Always Need to Agree?
No! You are both still human and are bound to have differing opinions on
how to raise your child together. What joint legal custody means is that
both parents have the legal right to make decisions regarding their child
and that no parent can make a decision on their own.
That being said, parents who have joint legal custody of a child are encouraged
to work together to come to an agreement on decisions to avoid going back to court.
Does Joint Physical Custody Mean a Child Is Split 50/50?
It is often difficult for a child to split their time completely even,
so it is common for a child to spend more time with one parent over the
other—even when joint physical custody is awarded. In these cases,
the parent who has the child most is the “primary custodial parent.”
How Are an Agreement and a Judgment Different?
In some child custody cases, the parents will be able to work together
to determine an agreement regarding the custody of their child / children.
Should the parents, with their lawyers, be able to draft a written agreement
that is signed by two or more parties, it is a binding, enforceable agreement.
However, a court will not be able to enforce such an agreement it becomes
a court order—also known as a judgment. In some cases, the court
will be able to take the components of the agreement and incorporate it
into the final judgment.
The judgment would then replace the agreement and the court
would be able to enforce it in case of future violations.
What Happens If One Parent Wants to Move Away?
While moving—especially to a different state—is always a complicated
affair, it is never more complicated than when it involves a divorced
family and their children. If you are interested in moving after a divorce,
or if your ex-spouse is considering relocation, it is crucial you talk
to a Los Angeles family lawyer as these laws change frequently and you
need to protect your rights.
In most cases, parents who have
sole physical custody will be able to relocate with the children—unless the other parent
is able to prove that such a move would not be in the child’s best
interest. This is generally only true, however, in cases where sole physical
custody is permanent, something that is not always clear. In cases where
joint physical custody, the parent who wants to move with the children will need to prove to
the court that the move would benefit the child and be in their best interests.
What Happens If Both Parents Live in Different States?
Determining child custody can become complicated if the parents involved
do not reside in the same state. That being said, they are not impossible.
All states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement
Act (UCCJEA), which created a standard for courts determining and accepting
Under UCCJEA, states are able to make a decision regarding custody if one
of the following is true:
- The state is the “home” of the child—meaning the child
has resided there for at least six months or was living in the state prior
to a parent taking them.
- The state has people with significant connections to the child—such
- The child lives within the state and would be at risk for abuse or neglect
if sent away.
- There is no other state that can meet 1 out of 3 tests listed above or
a state is able to pass these tests but has subsequently declined to make
a custody decision in the case.
Does Child Support Affect Custody and Visitation Rights?
child support does not directly affect custody and
visitation rights. What this means is that a parent cannot refuse to let the other parent
see the child just because the support was not paid. On the flip side,
a parent cannot refuse to pay child support just because they have been
denied visitation with the child.
Is It More Likely for a Mother to Get Custody?
It used to be common for courts to favor mothers when it came to custody
decisions—especially in cases where the child was in the “tender
years” of five and under. This, however, has been rejected almost
entirely in most states, and in the rest, it is only used as a “tie-breaker”
in cases of equally fit parents and preschool children. There is no state
that automatically awards custody to a mother regardless of each parent’s