How Do I Get Custody in a California Divorce?

Brian A. Victor - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Brian A. Victor

Law Offices of Brian A. Victor
La Jolla, CA
Phone: 8586333529

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The simple answer: the parenting plan matters most. Do not get caught up in the terms. 

Child custody has two parts: legal custody and physical custody (referred to as “primary residence” in San Diego County courts). Legal custody allows you to participate in important decisions about religion, medical treatment and school selection. In general, there is a preference for joint legal custody. Physical custody determines the where and when. It ultimately answers the question, “How much time will I get to spend with my child?” 

Family Court Services Mediation 

How much time you get to spend with a child is often the most difficult issue in divorce. Frequently, there is room for flexibility in crafting a tailored parenting plan that sets out a visitation schedule. There are times, however, when one parent wants 50 percent and the other flat out refuses to consider it. When parents cannot reach agreement, the California Family Code requires that they participate in a child custody counseling session at Family Court Services (FCS) prior to a court hearing. 

I am the only attorney in San Diego County who has worked at FCS. During my time at the agency, I mediated some of the most challenging child custody and visitation matters. I made recommendations to Family Court judges in 4,000-plus cases. 

Based on this experience, I can ensure you are prepared for mediation. I am often able to help clients reach a child custody solution that fits their needs and focuses on the best interests and safety of their child(ren). 

How Child Custody Affects Child Support 

Another issue affected by child custody is child support. California uses a guidelines approach. The percentage of parenting time can have a significant impact.

The court may order no child support if parents earn a similar income and have roughly equal parenting time. If those same parents have an 80/20 percent parenting time schedule, the court would probably order child support. 

And lastly, one complaint that comes up as a case proceeds is how hard it can be to reach an attorney. If you call me with a question or concern about your case, I will make every effort to get back to you the same day or the next.  

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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