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Recent Posts in Child Custody Category

  • How do I serve the other parent with my request for modification of the existing parenting plan?

    The answer depends on whether only temporary orders have been made (pre-judgment) or whether is a final order (post-judgment). If the matter is the former, service by mail is acceptable. If the matter is post-judgment, personal service is required unless the other parent completes and submits an address verification form that verifies that they mailed the documents to the right address. Under ...
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  • What are improper grounds to modify a child custody order?

    I can only provide a sample of the grounds (as there are many). The first primary improper grounds to modify an order is "unclean hands". That is, one party is just being difficult or unpleasant in either their actions or conduct. Examples could be chronic lateness to exchanges, driving too fast, not attending the children's school functions etc. An additional improper grounds to modify a custody ...
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  • My case was in dependency court, but it is now concluded. Can I modify my parenting plan in family court?

    Yes, once your case is concluded in dependency court, you will be provided with an "exit order" which is treated the same way as a judgment from family court. You must still meet the criteria of a substantial change in circumstances to modify an exit order from dependency court. To modify your exit order in family court, you will need to file either a dissolution action (if you are married) or ...
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  • A judgment was entered by default as I did not file a response to the action and the other parent and I agreed at the time. Can I modify the default judgment?

    Yes, a parent may modify a default judgment regardless of whether they filed a response or otherwise participated in the case. The same rules of a substantial change of circumstances is required. However, if no response was filed, that parent will be required to pay the 1st appearance filing fee in addition to the filing fee to modify their order. As if the date of this blog, the 1st appearance ...
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  • I am in the military and I am required to relocate periodically or even be deployed for periods of time, what are my custodial rights?

    A parent's absence, relocation or failure to comply with custody or visitation orders shall not by itself be sufficient to modify a custody or visitation order if due to the parent's activation to military service or deployment out of state. The court does not want to punish a parent for serving his/her country and will make every effort to make sure that the military parent will have frequent and ...
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  • What does "Ex Parte" mean and what should I do if I was given Ex Parte notice?

    An Ex Parte is an emergency that needs the court's attention right away. The criteria used by the court is an imminent threat of physical harm to the children that requires immediate action by the court. For example, if you discover that the other parent is driving drunk with your children in the car or is planning to flee to Mexico with your children, an Ex Parte would be an appropriate request ...
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  • How does a permanent/judgment custody order effect my right to move out of state?

    If you have a permanent/judgment order for custody and visitation that awards you primary or sole physical custody, you are able to relocate (move away [anything in excess of 25 miles]) with the children by petitioning the court to do so. The burden would be on the non-custodial parent to prove that the move would be detrimental to the children. This is a very difficult task compared to parents ...
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  • What is the benefit of having a judgment (permanent order) for custody and visitation as opposed to a findings and order after hearing (temporary order)?

    The goal in a family law case is to obtain a judgment on the issues of custody and visitation. The reason being is that to change a judgment custody order requires a substantial change in circumstances which is a much higher burden than the best interest standard (which is the requirement in a pre-judgment order). The court has found that a change of school or work schedule does not meet this ...
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  • What are the new developments to Los Angeles County Conciliation Court Agreement for parents to be aware of?

    In Los Angeles County, prior to the Court making orders for Child Custody and Visitation, the parties are required to attend mediation. The proper term for this mediation is Conciliation Court where the parties meet with a MFT to discuss parenting plans in an effort to reach an agreement which is memorialized into a writing and submitted to the Court. The Court has recently inserted language in ...
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  • What Is Legal Custody?

    Legal Custody is defined as the right to make certain decisions regarding the parties= minor children as well as the obligation to share certain information with the other parent. As with physical custody, there are two types of Legal Custody (Sole & Joint). Common decisions that are involved with Legal Custody include, but are not limited to the following: 1) Selection of Doctor, Dentist, Mental ...
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  • How does being a sex offender or living with a sex offender effect a parent's right to custody and visitation?

    The Court may modify or terminate a prior custody order if either a parent is convicted of a felony that requires him or her to register as a sex offender or lives with a person who is required to register as same. There is a rebuttable presumption that the child is at significant risk of harm to either be in the custody of a parent with such a conviction or if that parent's resides with another ...
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  • If my custody order sets forth that I have "reasonable" or monitored visitation, must I show a change of circumstances to modify my judgment (final order)?

    Often I have clients bring in judgments (paternity or dissolution) setting forth a "reasonable" visitation schedule and informing me that they are having issues with the other parenting in seeing their children. This is typically followed by the question, "What is reasonable?" For whatever reason there is a box on judgment forms that a party can check that says 'reasonable visitation." However, ...
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  • How do I terminate a guardianship order and have my children returned to me?

    A parent seeking to terminate the guardianship has the burden to show the following in order to terminate the guardianship: a) that the initial basis for ordering the guardianship no longer exists & b) that she or he is fit to resume custody. For example, if a parent lost custody of their children due to a drinking problem that resulted in the injury to their child and guardianship was granted to ...
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  • I exercise more parenting time then is set forth in my judgment, am I in a better position to oppose a move away hearing then someone whose is designated as a non-custodial parent in the judgment?

    As stated elsewhere, where the parties have Joint Physical Custody (both parties have substantial amounts of parenting time), the Court must consider a move away request de novo and with both parents being on a level playing field. This is in stark contrast to one party being the primary custodial parent who would then have the presumptive right to relocate with the child. However, if the ...
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  • Is there a different standard in a move away case between parties having a temporary vs. a permanent order for custody and visitation?

    Yes, if you have a temporary order that was the result of a Request for Orders or Domestic Violence Restraining Order hearing then the standard is always what is in the best interest of the child and neither parent has a presumptive right to relocate with the child and are on a level playing field. However, when a permanent order is made (such as a Judgment or Dependency Court Exit Order), there ...
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  • In a move away case, does it matter whether I am the custodial or non-custodial parent?

    The custodial parent has the presumptive right to change the residence of the minor child and is not required to show the move is necessary, but rather that the move is not prejudicial to the child's best interest. This presumptive right does not apply to the non-custodial parent and they are saddled with the burden of showing that the move is detrimental to the child's best interest. If the ...
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  • Changing the Name of Your Child

    In a California paternity case, can the father asked to have the surname (last name) of the child? Whether the Court will change a child's last name or not depends on various factors that I will set forth in a moment. To be clear, fathers do not have a "primary right" to have the child bear his surname. Now the factors considered by the Court include: The length of time a child has used a ...
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  • Sexual Orientation & Child Custody

    How does a parent's sexual orientation or behavior impact a California child custody order? Whether a parent is heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual, transgender, or unknown/changing orientation, the Court will not involve itself in imposing its views on the parents regarding the parent's sexual preference. In addition, the Court will not disqualify a parent from obtaining a custody when that ...
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  • Factors Considered by the Court When Evaluating a Child's Environment

    What factors do the Court consider in determine the stability of a child's environment? A common outcome in the early stages of child custody proceedings is that the Court is very inclined to maintain the status quo. That is, if the parties, prior to separation or litigation, have an established parenting plan, the Court will likely adopt that plan (with exception) as a temporary order pending ...
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  • Afraid of Going Back to Court for a Modification Order?

    The other parent keeps threatening to take me back to Court, what can I do to minimize or prevent this from happening? Often times I have clients provide with a mediation agreement or an Order After Hearing telling me they thought the case was done and that the orders they had were permanent orders. This is not the case. In fact, these initial orders are referred to as temporary orders that are ...
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  • A Parent's Religion and Determining Child Custody

    Does my religious belief have any impact on my custody or visitation rights in a California child custody case? The issue comes up from time to time when one parent insists on having every Sunday so that they may take their children to his or her religious services. The Court will not make these types of orders nor will they evaluate one parent's religious belief over the other parent's belief. ...
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  • Going Back to Court Because of a Child Living Preference

    The other parent has threatened to take me back to Court because our child now says they want to live with the other parent. What should I do? Although the Court shall consider a child's preference, the Court is not bound to make orders solely on that preference. If the Court finds that the child's preference conflicts with what is in the best interest of the child, the Court will not make orders ...
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  • How Your Children Can Express Their Preferences

    How do I alert the Court that my child has a preference and how does the Court inquire as to what the child's preference is? To answer the first question, the child's desire to express their preference to the Court may be brought to the Court's attention by Minor's counsel, Court investigator, mediator or party. Or their attorney indicates to the judge that the child wishes to address the Court or ...
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  • The Child's Preference in a Child Custody/Visitation Case

    In a California child custody case, how old does a child have to be to express a preference as to where they want to live? There are two age groups that come into the analysis: 1) Under the age of 14 but is at a sufficient age to reason as to form an intelligent preference as to custody or visitation, and 2) 14 or older and the child wishes to address the Court. In the former group, the Court must ...
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  • It Really Is All About the Child?

    How about me? Aren't my interests as the parent as equally as important as the interests of our children? The Court's utmost priority and goal is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the child, while ensuring the frequent and continuing contact of the child with both parents. The parent's interest cannot be considered by the Court EXCEPT as it effects the best interest of the child. In ...
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