Joshua Tree Custody & Visitation Attorney
California child custody cases are some of the most challenging matters resolved in the Joshua Tree, CA family court system. When married parents decide to divorce, or when unwed parents decide to no longer continue their relationship, they must settle custody rights over their children. This can be an incredibly difficult experience for any parent, especially once they realize that the final decisions regarding custody and visitation are entirely in the hands of the judge handling their case.
If you are preparing to divorce or separate from your coparent, a Joshua Tree custody and visitation attorney is the ideal asset. They can help you prepare for the court proceedings ahead of you with confidence. The right child custody lawyer can make a tremendous positive impact on the outcome of your custody and visitation determination. Additionally, they may also assist you with any related family law matters you face.
Attorney Athina Powers has extensive professional experience representing Joshua Tree, CA clients in a wide range of family court cases, including difficult custody determinations. Regardless of what you expect from your case, it is vital to approach the situation prepared with good information and professional support from an attorney you can trust. Your Joshua Tree custody and visitation attorney can provide ongoing counsel through all phases of your case and help you reach the best possible outcome to your custody determination.
Why Do I Need to Hire a Joshua Tree Custody and Visitation Attorney?
Hiring custody lawyers is not a strict requirement for a custody determination in California, but you are far more likely to reach an agreeable result when you have experienced legal counsel guiding you through your case. The right attorney can provide several valuable legal services as you navigate the complex and emotionally taxing child custody dispute proceedings ahead of you. They can assist you in compiling the strongest possible case for the custody rights you want, and they can also provide valuable support in handling the other unique aspects of your case.
The Law Offices of Athina K. Powers have successfully represented many Joshua Tree clients in difficult family law cases. We take a client-focused approach to every case our firm accepts, learning as much as possible about every client, their needs, their family dynamics, and their goals for their custody disputes.
We understand the uncertainty and anxiety that precedes most custody disputes. We know that any parent is likely to have countless questions and concerns about what they can expect during their case proceedings. When you choose our team to represent you in any custody dispute, you can expect personalized and professional legal counsel through every phase of your case.
Navigating any family court case successfully requires extensive legal research, gathering a wide array of documentation, and carefully tracking your schedule with the local court. When you have a Joshua Tree custody and visitation lawyer representing you, your legal team will handle the procedural aspects of your case so you can focus on what’s most important to you.
We’ll keep you informed about the latest updates in your case and provide ongoing guidance as the situation evolves. We can also help you evaluate and modify an existing child custody and visitation order in light of recent life events.
Child Custody Disputes in Divorce
Many of the parents bracing for custody determinations in Joshua Tree, CA are facing larger divorce cases. When married parents divorce, their custody dispute is likely to be the most contentious aspect of their entire divorce case. Additionally, divorcing parents have far less flexibility in this aspect of their divorce than they do with property division and spousal support disputes. The court has the final say regarding child custody decisions and visitation, no matter how a divorcing couple chooses to handle their divorce proceedings.
Alternative dispute resolution has quickly become the preferred option for handling divorces in California. Instead of a lengthy, stressful, and expensive series of court proceedings in divorce litigation, many couples are instead choosing to resolve their divorces privately through mediation or collaborative divorce.
These alternative dispute resolution options can not only save the divorcing spouses time and money on their divorce but also enable them to maintain more influence over the outcome of their divorce. However, there are limitations to alternative dispute resolution – namely, the inability to reach any firm results regarding custody and visitation.
If you and your coparent decide to take advantage of mediation or collaborative divorce, you must resolve your custody dispute through litigation. A Joshua Tree family court judge must evaluate your case and assess numerous factors to determine what type of custody and visitation agreement would best suit your child’s needs and interests. This can feel very disempowering for any parent, and it is easy for a parent to feel as if the future of their relationship with their child is at stake and the outcome of their case is completely out of their control.
Working with an experienced Joshua Tree custody and visitation attorney in your divorce is the best way to approach this difficult situation. Your attorney can help you gather whatever evidence you may need to establish a strong case for custody of your child. Depending on how you and your spouse choose to resolve your divorce, you may be able to negotiate mutually agreeable custody and visitation terms during alternative dispute resolution. While this is not legally enforceable, it can be a valuable first step toward securing a more agreeable custody arrangement for your child. Keep in mind that a judge will need to review and approve the parenting plan you and your coparent devise.
The Law Offices of Athina K. Powers have years of experience in handling complex divorce cases. We can not only provide the support and counsel you need to approach your custody determination with confidence but also provide valuable assistance with the other aspects of your divorce case.
Concerns for Unmarried Parents in Custody Determinations
When unmarried coparents end their relationship and decide to live separately, they may need to establish a legally enforceable custody arrangement for their child. While unwed parents do not need to contend with many of the issues that a divorce would entail, they face other unique challenges when it comes to their custody and visitation determination. Specifically, paternity disputes can easily arise in custody cases involving unmarried parents.
Whenever a married woman gives birth, the husband is the presumptive father and will typically sign the child’s birth certificate after birth. When an unmarried woman gives birth, a presumptive father must sign the birth certificate, but if the presumptive father is unwilling to do so, a paternity case may ensue. Paternity disputes require DNA testing of the child and their alleged father. Once paternity is accurately established, the father is legally responsible for the child, and this will also establish the father’s rights to custody and visitation.
Whether you are an unwed father attempting to establish paternity of your alleged child or an unwed mother seeking to hold your child’s father accountable for child support, we can help. The Law Offices of Athina K. Powers have represented many unmarried parents in challenging custody and visitation disputes, and we can apply this experience to your case. Our team can assist you not only in navigating a paternity dispute but also in all of the related proceedings likely to follow.
How Are Custody and Visitation Determined in California?
Regardless of whether your custody dispute is part of a larger divorce case or is a standalone family court issue, eventually, you and your coparent will appear before a Joshua Tree family court judge to hear their determination of your custody and visitation case. The family courts of California are legally obligated to preserve the best interests of any children affected by their rulings. This means the judge handling your case has a legal duty to preserve your child’s needs and interests, not to serve your preferences.
Judges that handle custody disputes must evaluate many different factors to determine the best possible arrangement of custody and visitation rights for the children involved in a case. Some of these factors include:
- The age, health, and overall medical condition of each parent. Judges must ensure that a parent is physically and medically able to handle the demands of raising their children.
- The work schedules of the parents. If a parent is to receive custody rights, they must have the everyday availability to handle their child’s basic needs.
- Each parent’s criminal history. Judges take parents’ past criminal actions very seriously in custody determinations. If a parent has a history of violent crime, drug-related offenses, domestic violence, or any criminal convictions for offenses involving children, they are unlikely to receive any extensive custody or visitation rights.
- The living arrangements of both parents. Once parents separate, the judge will evaluate their respective living conditions to ensure the parents are able to provide their children with adequate living space and basic everyday needs. The judge will also want to evaluate how close the parents will be to one another and how far each parent lives from the child’s school and medical providers.
- The unique needs of the child. If a child has a medical condition, special needs, or any other issues that will require ongoing attention, the judge must take such factors into consideration when determining custody and visitation.
- The preferences of the child. Judges may want to hear from the children involved in a custody dispute. This can help the judge evaluate a child’s bond with each of their parents.
Judges must also review various other details on a case-by-case basis. Once the judge has assessed all the vital factors that demand consideration, they will deliver a ruling and create a custody order for the case.
What Does a Custody Order Include?
When a judge resolves a custody dispute, the parents will receive a custody order that includes the terms and conditions for child custody, visitation, and child support. When it comes to custody, there are two main forms of custody that a judge must settle: physical custody, which pertains to residency and where a child will spend their time, and legal custody, which applies to the ability to make legal decisions for a child.
If a judge determines that both parents are fit for custody and live close enough to one another that a joint custody arrangement would be tenable for the foreseeable future, the judge is likely to rule in favor of granting the child equal access to both of their parents. In a joint custody agreement, both parents have legal custody and must collaborate with one another regarding major decisions for their children. However, they may have an uneven split of physical custody depending on what the judge deems to be the best living arrangements for the child.
In the event a judge determines that one parent is not fit for custody, that parent may only receive limited visitation rights and will likely owe child support to the custodial parent. A parent may be deemed unfit due to mental illness, a substance abuse disorder, criminal convictions, or any past incidents of child abuse. It is important to note that if a parent does not qualify for custody, this will not negate their child support obligation.
The custody order should outline not only each parent’s custody and visitation rights but also their specific obligations regarding pickups and drop-offs, communication of important issues, and any incidents that would require them to notify the court. A custody order will also include child support terms, and child support is determined based on the custody rights granted to each parent, the needs of their child, and the incomes of both parents.
Can I Change a Custody Order in Joshua Tree, California?
The family court of Joshua Tree, California understands that life can pose unpredictable problems, and some of these problems can directly interfere with a standing child custody and visitation order. If you have recently experienced any major life event that impacts your standing custody order, discuss your situation with our firm. You have the right and the ability to request reasonable changes that reflect these recent events. The modification process makes it relatively easy for a parent to request reasonable and necessary changes to a child custody order.
If you believe you have grounds to file a petition for modification in Joshua Tree, CA, your attorney can assist you in drafting your petition and submitting it to the court. Once the court receives the petition, a judge will evaluate it to determine whether the grounds for the request are sound and if so, a court date is scheduled. Both parents have the right to attend the hearing and speak on the issue. The parent requesting the modification must make a compelling case as to why their requested change is both necessary and reasonable, and the other parent may offer contradictory testimony and evidence.
It’s possible for the other parent to acknowledge the need for the requested change and agree without contest, or they may oppose the change and make their argument against it. It’s also possible they may propose a counter-offer or alternative resolution to the issue at hand. When a judge approves a modification, they must ensure the change suits the child’s best interests. An approved modification will typically take immediate effect.
What Happens If a Parent Violates a Custody Agreement?
If you encounter any problems with your custody and visitation agreement, or if you believe the terms of your custody order are unfair or untenable, you must use the modification process to have it legally changed. Intentional violation of a custody order is a problem that the Joshua Tree family court takes very seriously. Any parent who willfully violates the terms of their custody order or who engages in a pattern of minor but unexcused violations can face contempt of court or even criminal prosecution.
When your coparent has repeatedly failed to abide by the terms of your custody order, or if they have committed a serious violation of your custody order in any way, your Joshua Tree custody and visitation attorney can help you hold them accountable by filing contempt proceedings against them. The penalties for contempt of court can include fines, jail time, and a loss of custody rights. While parents may encounter unexpected issues regarding their custody order, they must collaborate to address such issues appropriately. Failure to do so can have severe consequences.
Find Your Legal Team Today
Any child custody dispute carries significant emotional weight for the parents and the children involved, and it can be difficult to remain objective about this situation when you feel as though the final decision is entirely out of your hands. However, while the judge handling your case has the final say, you can still be proactive in establishing a solid case for custody by working with the right Joshua Tree custody and visitation attorney. The Law Offices of Athina K. Powers can provide the support and guidance you need to navigate your child custody case successfully. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team regarding your case, and we can let you know how our firm can assist you.