Child’s Interests

Divorce can be an extremely stressful time for the couples involved, but it can be far more stressful for the children who are caught in the middle of their domestic issues. Kids, especially younger children, don’t understand the complexities that are involved in a divorce, and so when they begin to get entangled in court battles, custody hearings and other legal issues as part of divorce proceedings, it can harm them both mentally and emotionally.

Kids need a lot of financial and emotional support whether the parents are together or not, and at King Law Firm Attorneys at Law, Inc., we want to make sure the child’s interests are kept at the forefront of any divorce proceeding. We aim to make the transition from a two parent home into a sole or shared custody arrangement a smooth and stress-free process.

There are a lot of things to consider when dealing with custody and the monetary support of a child in and after a divorce. King Law Firm Attorneys at Law, Inc. helps our clients understand these difficulties and how best to make it a calm and comforting process for both the parents and their children. We will always fight for the best possible outcome and seek a swift and cost-effective solution. Mediation is the best way to solve all of the issues dealing with child custody, visitation and support, but if the case must go to trial, we will be there to guide you, represent you and fill out and file all of the necessary paperwork. Not only that, but we guarantee to make sure you and your child’s rights are being protected.

Child Custody

Whether your divorce is contested or not, determining the living arrangements for your child and how visitations may work can become emotionally charged. Child custody, along with the division of assets and child support, must be resolved before a judge can issue a final judgment on the divorce.

There are two primary types of custody:

  • Legal Custody: This is the right and responsibility to make important decisions in regards to a child’s health, education and welfare. Usually, parents share joint legal custody unless: the parents are incapable of making decisions together; one parent is deemed unfit or is incapable of making decisions in regards to the child’s welfare; or it’s in the best interest of the child to be cared for by a sole parent.
  • Physical Custody: This decides where and for how long a child will live with one or both of their parents. When joint physical custody is ordered, the child spends the same amount of time in physical custody with both parents. When sole custody is ordered, the child lives with one parent while a clear set of visitation rights, whether supervised or not, are given to the other. In extreme cases, where it is deemed that one parent is a danger to the child, visitation rights may be terminated.

When looking into child custody, there are several factors a judge will consider prior to rewarding sole or joint custody:

  • Each parent’s income, finances and occupation.
  • The ability to provide for the child.
  • Instances of domestic violence or criminal activity.
  • In some cases, if the child is of “sufficient age and capacity to reason,” the court will seek to speak to the child and find out what they would prefer. Children over 14 are legally entitled to express their opinion if they so choose.

If for whatever the reason, the judge determines that neither parent is fit to take care of the child’s welfare, or that spending time with either parent would be detrimental or harmful to the child, the judge may appoint physical and legal custody, either joint or sole, to someone else.

Custody Mediation

Under California law, both parents are required to meet with a trained counselor before any hearing or trial may take place on child custody and visitation. In some counties, the counselor may submit their personal recommendations to the judge. Children are barred from these meetings unless the counselor specifically asks to meet with the child. A psychological evaluation may be ordered as well should the judge find it necessary to determine the best interest of the child.

Child Support

Child support is the amount of money a court orders one parent to pay the other to help provide for the welfare of the child, including food, shelter, clothing and other day-to-day necessities, until they are of legal age, or 18. The same factors that determine the custody of a child will be considered when dealing with child support, in that, if a parent is granted sole custody of a child, and that same parent can sufficiently provide for the welfare of the child, then child support from the other parent isn’t needed.

In California, significant factors must be weighed when determining the amount of support based on a determined set of guidelines, which include the income of each parent and how much custodial time each parent will spend with the child. Payments are required to be paid in a timely and consistent matter, and when it’s determined that the person paying support will not be able to do so, or falls behind on their payments, the judge can order garnishment of wages to guarantee payments. If it is found that a person is willfully not paying support, they can be found in contempt of court, which could mean jail time.

A change in circumstances can change the terms of child support, including:

  • The loss of a job.
  • The incarceration of a parent.
  • One parent has another child from a different relationship.
  • Changes in the amount of time a child spends with each parent.
  • Healthcare or educational costs may have changed based on the needs of the child.
  • The factors used to calculate child support have changed.

A request for changes in child support (called a stipulation or modification depending on whether the parents can agree on the change or not) can be made by either parent, but you must be able to prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last child support order. A judge must sign off on the request before the changes can go into effect.

Father’s Rights

Children deserve to have an ongoing relationship with both parents, regardless of their circumstances. Even though changes in society have lessened the belief that the mother is the better caretaker, fathers are still often forced to pay child support or lose custody over their children simply because it’s still deemed necessary for a mother to care for the child. But fathers legally have equal rights when it comes to custody and support of their children, so if you’re a father going through a divorce, make sure your rights are strongly represented by an attorney who will fight for not only your best interests, but for the best interests of the child.

Fathers also have rights when it comes to adoption. The decision to put a child up for adoption should never be solely on behalf of the mother, especially if the father has a vested interest in raising the child. If a father can prove paternity and show that he is capable of taking care of the welfare of the child, there’s a good chance that he can stop the mother from putting the child up for adoption and win sole custody. Speak to an attorney to find out what your rights are, how you can fight for the best interest of your child, and how you can remain part of your child’s life.

If you are currently engaged in a conflict over child custody, child support or are a father who is being prejudiced against, King Law Firm Attorneys at Law, Inc. is here to help provide you with accurate information about what to expect in your unique case, ensuring that you and your children are receiving the support you are all entitled to in accordance with California Law. Contact us for a consultation.

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