Parents oftentimes seek child custody as part of divorce decrees, though these matters may also be dealt with outside of the divorce process--such as when a child's unmarried parents split up. Parents may see physical custody (meaning the child lives with that parent) and/or legal custody (meaning that parent can make major decisions concerning the child's life). Furthermore, custody may be granted to only one parent (sole custody), or it may be granted to both (joint custody). In order to seek child custody, you will need to either reach an agreement with the other parent, or you will have to have this matter decided on by a family court judge. Read the information provided below to learn more about these options.
Reaching An Agreement
When both parents are able to come to a child custody agreement outside of court, they usually end up saving a great amount of time and money. Once both parents can agree, they should then submit it to the court so that the written agreement can be signed by a judge and turned into a court order. After the order is signed, it then has to be filed with the court clerk. Getting an official court order is a crucial step because it allows the child custody agreement to be legally enforced if there are any violations in the future. To request that a c custody agreement be turned into a court order, the parents need to fill out certain paperwork, which includes the Stipulation and Order for Child Custody and the actual custody plan. When both parents agree, there is usually no problem with getting the custody arrangement approved. There are many cases in which the parents reach agreements through court-ordered mediation.
Having the Court Decide
There are many cases in which parents simply cannot agree on the terms of their child custody arrangements. If the parents have tried mediation and they still cannot see eye-to-eye, they will need to argue their cases before the court and then have the judge make the ultimate decision. The court may require that a child custody evaluator investigate the case and then make a recommendation. Furthermore, the court may even appoint a lawyer in some cases to represent the child or children. The family court is required to give fair consideration to both parents and to make a decision that is based on the best interests of the child or children.
In some situations, a parent may try to obtain child custody by requesting that the existing custody order be changed. For example, the non-custodial parent may believe that the custodial parent is no longer fit to care for the child due to certain events that have occurred or major changes in circumstances. As a result, the noncustodial parent may file a petition for a modification.
Contact Our Office!
Are you looking for a Covina divorce lawyer who can guide you through the process of seeking child custody? If so, I invite you to call me at The Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. Contact my firm for dedicated legal representation in your child custody case!