CITY OF ORANGE CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEY
The Law Office of Kevin L Qualls
Determining child custody is one of the most challenging and contentious issues parents will face during a divorce. While the child’s best interest is at the forefront of both parents’ minds, both can have a very different opinion on what exactly that means. Regardless of how you and your co-parent might feel about various arrangements, the City of Orange court system holds a legal obligation to determine which child custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest without bias or preference.
The Law Offices of Kevin L Qualls have extensive experience in all types of child custody disputes and can provide you with the knowledgeable legal representation that you need. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family, and we will do everything in our power to reach a resolution that meets the best interests of your child. We recognize the impact a divorce has on a child’s life. We are professionally driven to give them the best future possible in a child custody arrangement that prioritizes their health, safety, and welfare.
If you are in the process of a divorce and have questions about child custody, the staff at the Law Offices of Kevin L Qualls is always standing by, ready to fight for what is best for your child.
What Is Child Custody?
Child custody is a legal term that refers to the rights and responsibilities of parents over their children. When one or both parents are unable, unwilling, or unfit to care for their child, they can give up all their rights by granting custody to the other parent or another guardian. When a couple decides to divorce and both parents desire to raise the child, they need to determine how they will juggle their parenting responsibilities. If there is no agreement between parents on how much time each will spend with their child, courts will order a custody arrangement based on certain criteria such as the child’s age, the parent’s living situation, and their overall relationship.
What Criteria Does a Court Use to Determine a Child's Best Interests?
A court will use specific criteria to decide on the best possible child custody arrangement for your children. When considering what is in the best interest of a child, the court will look at factors such as:
- The wishes of the child if they are old enough to voice an opinion. The weight of a child’s opinion will vary depending on their age, maturity level, and ability to comprehend the consequences of a custody arrangement.
- Whether or not either parent has a history of abuse. If there is a history of abuse, the court will likely order sole custody to be awarded to one parent.
- The child’s relationship with each parent. If the child has a strong bond with both parents, custody will likely be split between them. However, if one parent is routinely or constantly unavailable, the court may award the other parent sole custody or provide a different arrangement that rewards the parent who has been available during the divorce proceedings and the child’s life.
- The parents’ physical, mental, and emotional health. A court will not award custody to a parent who is unable to adequately care for their child or prove they have sound judgment.
- The parents’ work schedule and living situation. Courts will try to find an arrangement that allows both parents to have regular, uninterrupted contact with their children. If one parent works the night shift or travels for work, that impacts specific details on an arrangement but does not disqualify them from custody.
- The parent’s ability to provide a stable home environment. The court will want to make sure that either parent is not living in an environment where there are drugs, alcohol abuse, or other unacceptable influences for a child.
- Whether the parents can cooperate and make joint decisions for the child. If the parents are constantly bickering and maintaining an antagonistic relationship, it is a factor that the court will consider when awarding a specific custody arrangement.
- The distance between the parent’s homes. The farther apart the parents live, the more difficult it will be for the child to have a more traditional arrangement. If one parent is constantly traveling for work and cannot maintain a healthy child-parent relationship, the court will likely make their custody time-limited or intermittent to allow them more visitation when they are in town.
These are some of the many factors that a court will consider when determining what is in the best interest of your children. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on custody, it is best to seek the help of a qualified family law attorney who can advocate for what is in the child’s best interest during the proceedings and help you determine what is best for your family.
What Is the Difference Between Sole Custody and Joint Custody?
There are two main types of classifications: sole custody and joint custody.
Sole custody is when one parent has legal and physical guardianship of a child. It does not mean that the other parent cannot be involved in their lives, but rather they are not granted any rights or responsibilities for the child’s day-to-day care.
Sole custody is often awarded when one parent has been abusive. However, this type of arrangement may also happen if both parents have an equal relationship with their children, but one can’t provide adequate care due to circumstances such as work schedule, health issues, or living situation.
Joint custody is when both parents are granted physical custody of a child, as well as legal custody. If both parents are fully capable of raising a child, this is the most preferred arrangement as it allows the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. Joint custody can be granted in several different ways, including a 50/50 split, where the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent, or a larger amount of time with one parent, with the child spending extended periods of time with the other.
The main difference between sole and joint custody is that sole custody gives all the decision-making power to one parent, while joint custody requires both parents to agree on decisions affecting the child. This can be a more challenging arrangement, but it is perfect for parents who are able to communicate and cooperate on what is best for their child while still maintaining an equal relationship with both parents.
What Are the Benefits of Shared Parenting?
There are many benefits of shared parenting, including:
- The parents can work together to make decisions for the child. This type of arrangement allows both parents to be equally involved in their child’s life and makes it easier for them to make decisions that are best for the child.
- Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for the child. This helps to ensure that the child has two strong role models in their life and eliminates any confusion about who makes decisions for them.
- The child has a sense of stability and continuity. When the child spends equal amounts of time with both parents, they can maintain an equilibrium in their life and feel more connected to each parent.
- The child can maintain strong relationships with both parents. When both parents have a meaningful relationship with the child, they are able to count on two people for support and guidance.
- The child can have a sense of belonging to both parents. This type of arrangement can help a child feel more connected to both parents and deepen their sense of loyalty.
If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on custody, it is best to seek the help of a qualified City of Orange family law attorney who can advocate for what is in the child’s best interest during the proceedings and help you determine what is best for your family.
How Is Child Support Determined in City of Orange?
In California, the family law makes clear that both parents have an equal obligation to financially support their children. The amount of child support that is paid is based on a number of factors, including the income of each parent and the number of children being supported.
For parents who are unable to come to an agreement on child support, there is a formula that the court will use to calculate the amount that should be paid. The court may also consider other factors such as childcare and health insurance costs when calculating support. Generally, the non-custodial parent is the one who will pay child support to the custodial parent. However, if a couple shares custody and both parents earn an income, the child support amount may be more evenly split.
What If I Cannot Pay Child Support?
If you are behind on your payments, the other parent may file for contempt of court. If you are unable to pay your child support obligation, it is important to take action as soon as possible. You can speak with the family law attorney who is handling your case to determine the best course of action. It is anticipated that circumstances will change after a previously agreed upon arrangement, such as a job loss or a change in income. If you are unable to make your payments, the court may establish a payment plan or modify the original agreement.
It is important to note that child support is a legal obligation and should not be ignored. If you are having difficulties making your payments, please reach out for help. The family law attorneys at our office are here to assist you with all your child support needs and help you reach a resolution so that this difficulty does not impact your child.
The following reasons are common motions to alter a child support arrangement:
- A parent wants to move far away from where the other parent lives.
- The child’s financial needs have increased due to special circumstances such as medical bills or school tuition.
- A parent paying child support has suffered from a serious injury or illness and is unable to work.
What Are Visitation Arrangements?
Visitation arrangements are the time that a child spends with the non-custodial parent. Visitation schedules can be worked out amicably between the parents or ordered by the court.
If you are unable to come up with a visitation schedule on your own, it is important to have a family law attorney help you work through this process. Visitation schedules are usually worked around the child support arrangement so that both parents have an appropriate amount of time with their child.
In some cases, the non-custodial parent may only be able to see their child on weekends, during the holidays, or for a specific number of days each month. There are also cases where the parents share custody, and the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent.
If you are a non-custodial parent and need to change your visitation schedule, you will need to file a motion with the court. It is important to have an attorney by your side who can help you through this process and ensure that your rights are protected while respecting your child’s needs.
What Happens When a Parent is in Violation of a Child Custody Agreement?
If one of the parents is not following the child custody agreement, they may be in violation of the order. This can result in several different consequences, such as being ordered to attend parenting classes or having your visitation reduced. If you are the parent who is not following the agreement, it is important to speak with an attorney who can help you understand your rights and the potential consequences of not following the order.
If you are having difficulties following the custody agreement, it is important to reach out for help. The family law attorneys at our office are here to assist you with all of your child custody needs and help you reach a resolution so that your rights are protected.
The following reasons are common motions to alter a child custody arrangement:
- The non-custodial parent is not allowing the other parent to pick up or drop off their child.
- A modification may be necessary if one of the parents gets a new job and their hours no longer coincide with the current visitation schedule.
- The child is not being picked up or dropped off at the correct location or time, causing a disruption in the visitation schedule.
- A parent is afraid that their child will be mistreated while in the other parent’s care.
- The child is not being supervised properly while in the custody of the other parent.
The most severe consequence for violating a child custody agreement is that the court may decide to award full custody to one of the parents. If this occurs, the other parent will have very limited rights to see their child. Therefore, it is important to take any allegations of child custody violations seriously and reach out for help if you are struggling to follow the order.
How Can I Prove the Other Parent is Not Responsible Enough for Custody?
If one of the parents believes that the other parent is not responsible enough to care for their child, they will need to provide evidence to support this claim. This can be done by submitting police reports, court documents, or witness testimony that supports your allegations.
Common evidence that is used to prove that a parent is not responsible enough for custody includes:
- Criminal history, including past charges, convictions, and incarceration.
- Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Mental health history, including hospitalizations, diagnoses, and treatment.
- Proof of child abuse or neglect.
- Proof of domestic violence.
To advance your claim, you should talk to an attorney who can help you gather the appropriate evidence and support your case.
Are You Allowed to Change a Child Custody Order in the Future?
It is important to remember that child custody cases can be changed in the future. If there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a job loss or relocation, you may be able to file a motion to modify the order. However, it is important to note that not every change in circumstance will be grounds for a modification.
If you are considering filing a motion to modify your child custody order, it is important that you speak with an attorney first. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and the process for filing a motion and provide preventative measures to take prior to filing to increase your chances of success.
The Value of City of Orange Child Custody Attorneys
Every year thousands of parents go to court to battle for custody of their children and rely on the legal services of an City of Orange child custody lawyer to help them achieve the best possible outcome. Some value your attorney can provide includes:
- Expertise: Understanding the child custody laws in California provides immense value, as parents rely on the laws in place for guidance and support.
- Experience: A qualified attorney has successfully represented many people in custody cases before the court, already proving their ability to focus on the needs of their clients and achieve a positive outcome.
- Objectivity: Attorneys can set aside personal feelings, provide a clear head, and be objective in their advice to clients during a custody case.
- Resources: Lawyers have access to a wealth of resources, such as investigators and mental health professionals who can be helpful in developing the case.
- Negotiation: Attorneys can negotiate with the opposing party and their attorney, which often results in a more peaceful settlement.
- Document management: Lawyers can help clients prepare and file all the necessary paperwork needed in a custody case and ensure no deadlines are missed.
- Mediation: Divorce lawyers can advocate for their client’s position and help parents understand the other parent’s perspective. This often helps reach an agreement that both parties can agree to and is in the children’s best interest.
These are just a few of the many reasons why many parents each year turn to an experienced child custody lawyer for assistance with their custody case. If you are considering filing for custody or need help following an existing agreement, having legal representation will help ensure your rights are protected and that your situation reaches a favorable outcome.
What Qualities Should I Seek in an City of Orange Family Lawyer?
If you are considering hiring a family lawyer for your divorce, many factors can determine if someone will be a good fit for your case. Some of those most common qualities that breed the best results include:
- Availability: You need a family attorney you can reach when you have questions about your case, so being available to answer calls and provide timely responses is key.
- Experience: Handling a variety of family law cases can give an attorney the experience they need to represent you in your unique case.
- Success: A thorough track record of positive results over the course of their career is an excellent indicator that you can expect to see similar outcomes.
- Compassion: Your family lawyer should be someone you feel comfortable opening up to and who understands the stress that comes with a family law case. Having a compassionate, understanding lawyer is vital.
- Manageable fees: Be sure to choose a family lawyer in Orange County who offers services at a fair price that works best for you and your family. Discuss payment options and other financing solutions if needed.
- Analytical skills: Your lawyer should be able to review the facts of your case, understand the law as it applies, and develop a strategy that will help you reach the best possible outcome.
- Active listener: Your lawyer should be not only willing to listen but also understands the importance of actively listening. You want a family attorney who can consider all of your concerns and thoughts when developing a plan.
By prioritizing these qualities when seeking an Orange County family lawyer, you can be sure that you have the best chance of reaching a successful outcome.
Tips for Talking to Your Child About a New Custody Arrangement
One of the most difficult parts about going through a divorce or child custody battle is having to discuss it with your children. These conversations can be tough if you are trying to explain a new child custody arrangement.
If your children have any questions about the changes in their lives, it is important to answer them as honestly and openly as possible. If your child asks a question you cannot answer, do not hesitate to direct him or her to speak with their other parent or your lawyer.
Here are a few tips to help make these conversations go a little more smoothly:
- Be prepared for questions: No matter how old your child is, they are likely to have many questions about the changes in their life. Make sure you know what the custody arrangement is. Be prepared to answer any questions your child may have.
- Avoid blaming: When explaining a new custody arrangement, it is important to avoid blaming either parent. Your child will likely feel like they are being forced to choose sides, which can do long-term damage.
- Keep it simple: Try to keep your explanation of the new custody arrangement simple and easy for your child to understand. Do not use legal jargon or complex explanations.
- Offer support: If your child seems upset or confused, offer them as much support and encouragement as possible. While you cannot take away the pain of a divorce or custody battle, you can let your child know that they are not alone and there is always hope.
- Welcome open communication: Encourage your child to talk to you about anything on their mind, whether related to the custody arrangement or not. This open communication will help to ensure that your child feels comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns.
- Consider having the conversation with both parents together: This can be a difficult conversation to have, but if possible, having both parents present may help your child feel more comfortable. It also can help to reinforce the idea that both parents are still a part of their child’s life and that both parents can remain involved in their child’s life even if they are not living together.
By following these tips, you can make sure that your child is as comfortable as possible during this difficult time and set them up for success as much as possible.
Contact the Law Office of Kevin L Qualls - City of Orange Child Custody Attorney
The law offices of Kevin L Qualls have been helping City of Orange families navigate through difficult custody situations for years. Kevin L Qualls has been a member of the Orange County Bar Association for over thirty years and has experience litigating hundreds of cases involving child custody.
Whether it’s arranging a new custody arrangement or trying to modify an existing one, our team of smart, compassionate lawyers will work tirelessly to help you reach the best possible outcome. It’s in our DNA to fight for our clients and help them to overcome even the most difficult challenges without losing sight of everyone’s mutual goal – the well-being of your child. Every decision we make is with your child’s best interest in mind, and we will work tirelessly to help you achieve a successful outcome. Contact us today to begin discussions on how to help you get the best custody arrangement for your family.