General Child Custody, Visitation, Support and Paternity Issues in California Family Law
In the state of California all persons under the age of 18 are considered minors with respect to California family law.
Child custody and visitation issues
Child custody issues in California family law can result by way of the initiation of dissolution of marriage proceedings (divorce), legal separation, annulment, or paternity proceedings. Child custody issues can arise even if the parties are not legally separated, but living apart.
There are several classifications of child custody in the state of California such as; Sole legal and physical custody, primary physical and legal custody, joint physical and legal custody, and no right to custody.
With respect to marriages, the father or the mother are equally entitled to custody of the minor children of the marriage, before a court ordered is entered. If you are contemplating a divorce, filing for divorce, legal separation, or living apart, it is very important to obtain court orders which articulate your rights to child custody as soon as possible. Without court orders, a child who is let's say is living with the mother, (or father) could be legally taken by the other parent absent court orders. If you have minor children of the marriage, it is important to file an order to show cause for child custody along with any petition for dissolution of marriage, or legal separation paperwork, so that you can get a court order articulates your rights to child custody.
The court primarily focuses on what's in the child's best interests when it determines who is entitled to what type of custody of a minor child of the marriage. Although it sounds simple, child custody and visitation issues with respect to California law are quite complicated, and should not be litigated without the help of an experienced attorney.
In the old days it was thought that children should be with their mother. However, modernly the court looks at many factors in determining who gets what type of custody of minor children. If you are a mother, you should not assume that you will automatically get custody of the children. If you're a father, you have an equal chance of getting primary custody of the children.
Entire law books have been written on the subject of child custody.
If you have a child custody issues in Southern California and want a consultation on your case, give our law firm a call at 949-383-5523.
Child support issues
The parents of minor children are legally responsible to provide support for their minor children, even if the child is conceived out of wedlock. Children who were born in the course of a marriage, are presumed to be the children of the parties in the marriage.
Ordinarily, one parent will be ordered to pay child support to the other parent depending upon many factors. These factors include but are not limited to: (1) who has custody of the minor child or children, and for what percentage of time, (2) each parent's average and current income, and (3) any expenses and hardship deductions.
As you can see, child custody is intimately intertwined with child support.
Child support cannot be retroactively ordered by the courts in the state a California. Although each parent has a statutory duty to support their children, one parent can't be forced to pay the other parent child support, unless they have obtained a court order for child support. In other words, if you snooze you lose.
If you're a parent who has primary physical custody of your children, it is very important for you to go to court as soon as possible to obtain child support orders. Without said orders, you and your children are out of luck. In a perfect world, a responsible noncustodial parent would pay child support, however in reality, a court order is usually required to get the other parent to pay.
Once you obtain a child support order from the court, the court will in most cases put a wage garnishment on the parent who is to pay child support so that the money is taken right out of their paycheck.
In some cases parents might purposely try to avoid paying child support by quitting their jobs, or working under the table. In California the court can impute wages on to a person who is supposed to be paying child support, if the court finds that they are intentionally not working, or purposely working below their means.
When a person who is supposed to be paying child support falls behind on their child support payments, those child support payments that are behind are called arrearages. The parent who is owed the past-due arrearages can go into the court and request a contempt order, and an order that the parent owing past-due arrearages pay interest and penalties on the amounts due.
It should be noted that in the state of California and interest and penalties on past due child support payments can be quite substantial, and in some cases exceed the actual amount of child support.
If you're a parent that owes child support, and your circumstances have changed such that you cannot pay the current amount of child support ordered by the court, you are going to need to go into the court as soon as possible to request a modification of existing child-support orders. If you fall too far behind on your child-support payments, your drivers license can be taken away, professional licenses can be suspended, and you could face potential criminal prosecution by the district attorney. As time goes by, interest and penalties will increase on the amount you owe such that I could take many years for you to pay off the amount owed. It is much more inexpensive to retain an attorney to protect your legal rights, rather than allowing the past two child-support owed to continue to increase.
Whether you want to establish child support, enforce child-support orders, modify existing child-support orders, or need to defend against a child-support action, our law firm can help you. For a consultation regarding your child-support issue, call our office now at 949-383-5523.
Paternity in California law, means that you are the biological parent of a child. Ordinarily paternity issues revolve around a mother alleging that a man is the biological father of a child, or a man disputing that he is the biological father of a child.
In cases where a party is alleging that one person is a biological parent of a child, and the parties are not married, paternity needs to be established, before the court can order child support payments and or visitation rights.
For persons wishing to establish paternity so that they can receive support for a child, a petition to establish paternity must be filed, unless the other party agrees that the child is theirs.
For persons wishing to dispute paternity, they have to timely oppose a petition to establish paternity, and request that a DNA test be done.
Our law firm can help you whether you want to establish paternity so that you could receive child support payments, or if you want to dispute paternity of a child. Call now for a consultation at 818-584-8831 extension 1 or click here now.
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The Law Offices of Norman Gregory Fernandez handles family law matters including but not limited to: divorce, legal separation, child custody, child visitation, child support, community property, restraining orders, prenuptial agreements, post nuptial agreements, marriage agreement, name changes, etc., in Los Angeles County, and Orange Count.
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