Palm Desert Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody determinations are some of the most emotionally stressful family law matters that anyone can experience. Whether you are married and considering a divorce or an unmarried co-parent, the thought of losing time with your children can be unbearable, but it is a reality if your spouse or partner intends to remain a part of your child’s life and they are a safe and fit parent. Ultimately, children thrive best when they have access to both parents. Family courts in California and throughout the United States strive to ensure that children of divorced or separated unmarried parents continue to have that access to the greatest extent possible.

Compassionate Legal Counsel for Palm Desert, CA, Child Custody Determinations

If you are planning to end your marriage and you and your spouse have children together, or if you are an unmarried parent and you and your co-parent plan to end your relationship, a child custody determination is something you must face eventually. Approaching this process is much easier when you have an experienced Palm Desert child custody lawyer on your side. The Law Offices of Athina K. Powers can provide the legal representation you need to approach your child custody determination with clarity and confidence.

What Type of Lawyer Handles Child Custody?

Child custody determinations fall within the purview of family law, so it is vital to secure legal representation from an experienced family law attorney if you are preparing for a custody determination in the future. Your child custody determination may be just one part of a larger divorce case. However, if you are not married to your child’s other parent, you will still need to undergo the child custody determination process. In addition, once unmarried parents decide to no longer live together and raise their children as partners, they must legally establish a custody agreement for their children.

It’s vital to secure legal counsel from the right attorney as you begin the child custody determination. Your legal team can make a tremendous difference in the quality of your experience with the family law system. While you may be concerned with gaining as many custody rights as possible, your Palm Desert child custody lawyer will help you stay focused on what is best for your children and secure a custody agreement that suits their best interests.

Custody Determinations in Palm Desert Divorce Cases

When you are planning to end your marriage, and you and your spouse have children together, the child custody determination is likely to be the most stressful and emotionally challenging aspect of your entire divorce process. You may feel as though you are losing control over your ability to raise your children or sharing them with a co-parent who does not put as much emotional value into their relationship with your child as you do. However, many of these notions can often be attributed to the personal tension between divorcing parents. Therefore, one of the most important things you must do when bracing for a child custody determination as an element of your divorce is to remain as objective as possible about the situation.

Your divorce process will include child custody determination and property division, spousal support determination, and other elements depending on you and your spouse’s unique situation. The California family court has a legal responsibility to ensure that any child custody determination approved in the state suits the children’s best interests. While you and your spouse may be able to negotiate some of the terms of your divorce, the court must have the final say when it comes to child custody. For example, you and your spouse can negotiate terms for a parenting plan, but a Palm Desert family court judge must review and approve this plan before it becomes an enforceable family court order.

When determining child custody in divorce, the judge must consider numerous factors such as each parent’s ability to financially support their children, their work schedules, the flexibility they each have in providing attentive care to their kids, where each parent intends to live following completion of their divorce, and various other factors. Your Palm Desert child custody lawyer will help you make the most compelling case for custody you possibly can and help you achieve the child custody arrangement that most closely suits your child’s best interests.

Custody Determinations for Unmarried Parents

Unwed parents must undergo child custody determinations if they end their relationships and decide to live separately. While parents in this situation can avoid the typical stress of the divorce process, a child custody determination is still an incredibly stressful situation for any parent. The court must ensure the custody order suits the child’s best interests as it does in a divorce case. Some custody determinations for unmarried parents may raise other complex questions. For example, the presumption of paternity may come into play, or an alleged father may demand a paternity test to prove they are financially responsible for their partner’s child.

What Are the “Best Interests” of a Child?

When it comes to determining the “best interests” of a child involved in any child custody determination, the Palm Desert family court must assess multiple factors to ensure the determination can enable a safe, healthy, and supportive lifestyle for the child. The order will affect. Regardless of whether parents are married or unmarried, the court must evaluate:

  • The income of each parent.
  • The work schedule of each parent.
  • The locations where each parent intends to live.
  • The proximity of extended relatives.
  • The proximity of the child’s school and medical caregivers.
  • The relationships of each of the parents with their child.
  • Each parent’s criminal history, particularly records of domestic violence or child abuse.
  • Each parent’s willingness to actively participate in raising their child.

The court must evaluate these and many other factors to determine what custody arrangement would best suit the child. Typically, family courts in the US strive to rule in favor of joint custody agreements that offer a child as much time with both of their parents as possible. However, this is not always possible. For example, some parents may not wish to assume custody and be willing to assume child support obligations instead, while other parents do not have the medical capacity to handle sole custody. Ultimately, every child custody determination will involve unique variables.

Modifying Your Child Custody Agreement

The child custody determination process is likely to be one of the most challenging experiences of your life, and there is no guarantee that your custody arrangement will remain in place as-is forever. Life can change unexpectedly, and some life events may alter a parent’s ability to abide by their custody order’s provisions. Family law is unique because it provides an accessible and streamlined alternative to an appeal process when a family court order needs to be changed. Your Palm Desert child custody lawyer can help you file a petition for modification of your child custody order if recent life events materially influence your ability to abide by the terms of your custody agreement. Filing a petition for modification of child support terms is also possible in some situations.

The modification process is straightforward, but it is always best to have a lawyer assist you in approaching this process. First, the party in need of modification files a petition with the Palm Desert family court that outlines their required change and the evidence substantiating their request. The court reviews the petition, and if it is deemed to hold merit, a hearing date is set. Both the petitioner and the other parent will have the opportunity to speak on the issue. If the court finds the petition reasonable and necessary, the judge can modify the family court order accordingly.

The modification process can be invaluable in many situations. For example, suppose you have legal custody of your children but suffer a severe injury that results in a disability. In that case, this may prevent you from handling all the typical responsibilities that legal custody entails. You could file a petition to change your custody agreement so that it more closely aligns with your medical ability. You could also petition to adjust your child support obligation after losing your job or experiencing other unforeseen life events that impact your ability to pay child support.

What to Expect From Your Palm Desert Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody determinations are difficult experiences for any parent, and it may be challenging for a parent to remain practical and objective throughout this process due to the emotional weight of the situation. Having the right attorney on your side through your child custody determination process is invaluable, allowing you to approach the situation with understanding and confidence.

When you need a Palm Desert child custody attorney to represent you, the Law Offices of Athina K. Powers provide the experienced legal counsel you need in this challenging situation. We provide client-focused and comprehensive representation in every case we handle, and our firm has years of experience representing clients in challenging custody cases. For help understanding your next steps for a child custody determination in Palm Desert, contact the Law Offices of Athina K. Powers.