Child Custody

Skilled And Focused Legal Advocacy For Custody, Visitation And Child Support

Child custody and parental visitation are sensitive, critical aspects of family law litigation, and decisions made in that process will have a significant impact on your children and your parenting role.

In California, courts must consider the best interests of the child when hearing child custody and visitation matters. This standard requires the court to weigh various factors such as the level of tension and disagreement between parents. Even the input factors for a child support calculation may be a source of argument between parents who have separated.

Custody, visitation, and child support require the knowledgeable, compassionate, and responsive representation that Dunne & Dunne provides.

We Excel At Resolving Complex Custody Disputes

Our experienced San Diego divorce lawyers handle custody and visitation matters in connection with divorces and partnership dissolution, legal separations, annulments, abuse prevention, and parentage actions. We have a successful track record in settling and litigating legally complex, high-conflict matters, such as:

  • Custody evaluations
  • Supervised visitation when warranted
  • Paternity actions and DNA testing
  • Child abduction, including Hague Convention cases
  • Parent relocation petitions
  • Parental alienation remedies
  • Child support determinations
  • IRS dependency exemptions for children

We diligently work toward favorable outcomes for our clients, prioritizing your children’s needs and interests.

Understanding California Custody Law

California distinguishes between “physical” and “legal” custody. If a parent has “sole physical custody,” the child resides with that parent. The court may issue orders allowing visitation to the parent who does not have physical custody. If the parents have “joint physical custody,” then the child resides with both of them, for a timeshare division that is equal or roughly equal between the parents. A visitation schedule is arranged to define this timeshare.

If a parent has “sole legal custody,” that parent has the exclusive right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare. If the parents share “joint legal custody,” both parents are legally entitled to share in such decisions.

California contemplates that child custody can be assigned in a number of ways:

  • A parent may have sole physical and sole legal custody
  • A parent may have sole physical and joint legal custody
  • The parents may have joint physical and joint legal custody
  • A parent may have joint physical custody and sole legal custody

The state does not presumptively favor any particular custody assignment. The state grants both the court and the family wide discretion to establish a parenting plan that serves the child’s best interests. Pursuant to California law, parents who cannot agree to a child custody agreement must participate in court-ordered mediation, to try to resolve these issues. Of course, mediation is effective only if each party is willing to compromise. If one or both parties cannot do so, then litigation will be necessary.

California courts differ by county, in terms of whether their mediators operate by confidential or recommending mediation. In confidential mediation counties, the sole purpose of mediation is to attempt to reach a full agreement on the child-related issues, such that the parties will not have to appear before a judge. The parties can also reach a partial agreement, resolving some issues together and leaving the rest for the judge.

In recommending mediation counties, the court will issue a temporary child custody order, based on the mediator’s recommendations as to any issues the parties cannot resolve. The court does not always adopt every recommendation, but judges commonly give weight to mediators’ recommendations. Both parents have a statutory right to a child custody trial, the result of which will be the issuance of permanent orders. It is in your best interest, and that of your children, for you to have an attorney to advise you during mediation and advocate for you during these adversarial court proceedings.

Knowledgeable Counsel And Effective Representation

The San Diego divorce attorneys at Dunne & Dunne effectively counsels parents to agree upon child custody arrangements that serve their children’s best interests. We also provide comprehensive trial experience in contested child custody cases. We will advise you through the mediation process, work toward a fair and equitable custody agreement, and, if litigation becomes necessary, aggressively represent you at trial, with compassion for you and your children at the forefront of our minds.

Our legal team can also help you resolve other aspects of custody and visitation, including “move-away” cases; modification of custody orders; establishment or modification of parenting plans; establishment, enforcement or modification of visitation rights; and interstate and international custody disputes. Our exclusive focus on family law in San Diego Area, together with years of experience handling custody and visitation matters, empowers us with the requisite insight, expertise, and care necessary to represent you in a way that protects your child’s best interests.

Contact Dunne & Dunne

To speak with a San Diego child custody attorney about divorce or domestic partnership dissolution, child custody, and/or related issues, please contact us online, or call us at 619-232-9260.