California Family Law Process For Child Custody In California
Child custody in California is crucial for a lot of parents. This is because California custody laws affect your children and your future with them. Not to mention, child custody battles are stressful for those involved. So, you want to ensure you're getting the best possible outcome for you and your kids.
That said, let's take a look at the process of child custody in California, how to file for child custody, and what you can do to ensure you win it:
1. Ensuring Ample Preparation
Do your research and consider your options. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
Will you be requesting sole custody?
Are you open to joint physical custody?
What about legal custody of your children?
What is your ideal parenting schedule?
What can you do to prove your viability?
Additionally, it's crucial that you meet with a child custody attorney in Los Angeles to come up with a legal strategy. Seeking representation from Los Angeles Child Custody Attorneys is strongly recommended, but if you cannot hire someone, at least do a free consultation to hear the thoughts of a professional.
2. Filing The Right Documents
You must file a family law case in your county's superior court before you may ask for custody. This case can be a divorce, a request for a restraining order against the following:
Petition for custody
You then have to file a request for a custody order, which either parent can do. Finally, once papers are filed with the court clerk and the other parent has been served with a copy, they can file a response.
Your Los Angeles Child Custody Lawyer can help you sort through, manage, and submit these documents on time.
3. Attending An Emergency Custody Hearing
A parent may ask for an accelerated hearing to see if urgent temporary orders are required if a kid is in danger of being hurt or removed from the state in the near future. A judge's emergency orders are valid until the next hearing. At this point, they might be revoked, changed to temporary ones, or prolonged.
If you're unsure about your next move, ask your family law attorney in Los Angeles for the best advice.
4. You Need To Attend An Orientation
At the beginning of a custody case, parents are required by many counties in California to undergo a quick orientation. It can be done online in many cases, including in Los Angeles and other counties. If your county does not require orientation, California Courts' video on child custody mediation will help you prepare for the next stage.
5. Preparing For Court-Ordered Mediation
Before a judge decides on a parent's custody or visitation schedule, the law requires parents to participate in mediation. However, there won't be any attorneys present for their free, lengthy meeting with a mediator employed by the court.
Mediation aims to create a comprehensive parenting plan that both parents approve and can be approved by the judge to become a binding order. Some counties' mediators provide suggestions to the court if obligatory mediation does not result in complete agreement. Other counties' mediators merely note that a settlement could not be reached.
Remember that the custody procedure can skip ahead as soon as a judge signs a parenting agreement between the parents, whether it was reached through mediation, informal bargaining, or another method.
6. Proceeding To A Hearing
A hearing will be held after mediation if a parenting plan cannot be reached. The parties typically encounter the judge for the first time at this hearing. However, before court-ordered mediation, some counties require an initial hearing.
The judge will conduct one or more of the following after looking over the details of your case:
Request a custody assessment.
If the lawsuit requires the children to have their own attorneys, appoint a child's counsel.
If the parties are unable to agree on a parenting plan that works for the term of the custody proceeding, grant temporary custody orders.
Organize a further trial or hearing
You can provide the judge a quick summary of your case and supporting documentation during hearings so they can decide how to proceed. Usually, both sets of parents and their attorneys speak.
Depending on your family's circumstances, you may have as few as one hearing or as many as 10 hearings throughout your case. If you have questions and concerns, direct them to your Los Angeles Child Custody Lawyer.
7. Attending Conferences
In essence, conferences are meetings with the judge. Different sorts of conferences are used in various counties. In many instances, only attorneys enter the chambers and inform their clients of the proceedings.
A pre-trial meeting, also known as a trial setting conference, establishes the trial's timeline, determines the parties' readiness for trial, and more.
The parties once more meet in a settlement conference in an effort to reach an agreement and prevent a trial. This time, the court assists the parties in reaching an agreement. While some counties use several settlement conferences, others do not mandate or offer this step.
8. Attending A Trial
Parents will finally go to court if they are unable to come to an agreement.
A prolonged, more formal version of a hearing is a trial. In front of the judge, both parties have the chance to review all of their supporting documentation and cross-examine witnesses in order for the court to render a decision.
A trial may last several days, weeks, or even months in the most complex of circumstances. Since court calendars get full and attorneys need time to prepare evidence, there is frequently a long wait between the final hearing and the trial.
The judge will make their ruling public following the trial. It is termed a final custody order once it has been signed.
9. Getting Your Final Orders
A judge will sign a final custody order to end the custody proceedings. It outlines the legal requirements that all parties must follow up until the affected child turns 18 or becomes an adult and is emancipated in the form of a parenting plan. The specifics are either decided by the judge after a trial or by the parties, with the judge giving his or her approval.
If a parent has a valid basis for disagreeing with a court's ruling, they may file an appeal with a higher court and reopen the case. A move to modify or reverse the court order may also be submitted by them.
Orders frequently need to be changed multiple times as children become older and their habits change. Parents can work jointly to create a new parenting schedule, or one parent might ask the court to alter the current one.
You ought to make thorough records of any infractions of court orders that the other parent disobeys. You can report major or persistent infractions to the police, or you can ask the court to declare you in contempt.
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