Parents who are divorcing or separating face difficult times when child support, custody and visitation issues arise. Our Riverside child custody lawyer strives to make this time easier and guide you through the process. Attorney Michelanne Hrubic is an experienced Riverside family law attorney providing a full range of legal services to divorcing and divorced parents in the Riverside area. If you are planning to divorce in the near future and have concerns about your impending custody arrangement, or if you have a legal issue pertaining to an existing custody order, our team can help.
Divorce is typically an emotionally straining experience, and child custody issues tend to be the most challenging for divorcing parents. It’s not uncommon for parents to carry misconceptions about their child custody rights as they head into divorce proceedings, only to be confronted with a custody order they did not expect that they deem unfair or imbalanced. While it may be technically possible to navigate a custody determination without an attorney, it is unwise to attempt this. Having an experienced Riverside child custody attorney at your side will help you approach the situation with more clarity and confidence.
Attorney Hrubic and her team work closely with every client, helping them understand the intricacies of the legal statutes that will come into play in their child custody determinations. We aim to help our clients approach these situations with solid information by providing comprehensive, detail-oriented legal counsel.
California state law requires a family court judge to review and approve a custody agreement before it takes effect. While you and your spouse may choose to privately negotiate your divorce, you can reach a personalized agreement when it comes to property division, alimony, and other financial matters in your divorce, but not child custody or child support. You and your spouse may privately negotiate a parenting plan, but you must submit this proposed plan to the judge overseeing your case so they can determine whether it is legally valid. It’s not uncommon for Riverside family court judges to adjust proposed parenting plans to suit their interpretation of the best interests of your children.
The court will look to determine what is in the best interest of the child when making a child custody and child visitation order. There are two categories of custody: legal custody and physical custody. The court will make decisions in four aspects of custody.
Legal custody deals with the person who is in charge of making the routine day-to-day decisions as well as those regarding health, education and welfare. Legal custody can be awarded to one or both parents.
Sole legal custody: Only one parent will have the legal authority to make decisions for the child’s health, education and general well-being.
Joint legal custody: Both parents should consult with each other and they both share the rights to make decisions for the child’s health, education and general welfare.
Physical custody deals with who the child lives with. Physical custody can be awarded to one or both parents.
Sole physical custody: The child resides with only one parent while the other parent will have visitation or, in some cases, no contact with the child. Sole physical custody means that the parent has the right to have the child present in the home.
Joint physical custody: The child resides with both parents. This does not mean the child is with the other parent exactly 50 percent of the time, although it can. Joint physical custody means that both parents share the right to have significant periods of time with the child.
Emotional conflicts can arise when parents try to navigate the areas of child custody and visitation. That is why we will work endlessly to ensure your rights are protected and we reach a favorable outcome in your situation.
Most divorcing parents seek joint custody, meaning both of a child’s parents have equal legal and physical custody and must share equal responsibility for their child. However, a joint custody agreement may not be exactly 50/50. Depending on numerous factors, such as the availability of each parent considering their respective work schedules, each parent’s chosen residence after divorce, and the unique medical, social, and educational needs of the child, the court may sway joint custody in favor of one parent. In some cases, typically those involving children over the age of 10, the court may consider the wishes of the couple’s children in assigning custody, but only if the children are able to make logical and compelling arguments on their own behalf.
Some joint custody agreements include 50/50 legal custody, meaning both parents have equal say when it comes to making decisions on behalf of their children but imbalanced physical custody. For example, legal custody may be 50/50, while the parents’ physical custody arrangement is 60/40 or 70/30.
This typically occurs when the court acknowledges that while both parents are responsible and capable enough to make sound decisions for their children, one parent is better suited to providing physical custody than the other. This may be due to the children’s school schedule, the location of the parents’ respective homes relative to extended family and the children’s schools, and the parents’ respective abilities to address their children’s unique needs.
If you intend to secure the greatest level of custody possible, it’s vital to work closely with your Riverside family law attorney to craft the most compelling argument. It will be vital for you to prove that your work schedule is flexible enough to accommodate your children’s everyday needs, and in some cases, it may be crucial for your attorney to help you prove that you inherently deserve more expansive custody rights than your coparent.
One issue that frequently arises after divorced parents have already obtained a custody agreement is relocation. One parent may wish to move, and doing so may materially alter the terms of their existing custody agreement. Any parent who intends to relocate while under a child custody order in California must provide the court notice 45 days or more ahead of their intended move date. Additionally, the relocating parent must provide a compelling argument as to whether the move is in the best interests of their children.
In the event the relocating parent is not moving very far, the court may decide that the custody agreement can remain as-is if it does not interfere with the other parent’s ability to assert their custody rights. However, if the move is a considerable distance that would make custody exchanges or visitation more difficult for the other parent, it is possible for the other parent to argue against the move.
Again, the issue of the best interests of the child is paramount in situations like these. If the non-relocating parent does not agree with the other parent’s relocation, it will be essential for them to prove that the relocating parent’s reason for moving does not align with the best interests of the child, or that the move would be detrimental to the child in some way. A Riverside family court judge must review and approve any proposed relocation; if they find that the relocating parent’s reason for moving does not suit their child’s best interests, the judge may rule that the parent cannot relocate or that they must forfeit some measure of their custody rights to go through with the move, potentially awarding greater custody to the non-relocating parent.
It is unfortunate that some divorced parents attempt to weaponize their children against their exes. Disagreements are common among divorced parents, but when a divorced parent violates the terms of a family court order pertaining to child custody, the consequences will be severe. The parent in violation of a custody agreement potentially faces loss of their custody rights and contempt of court. This, in turn, may lead to fines and other legal penalties, and it will ultimately damage their relationship with their children.
All parents with child custody agreements must abide by the terms of those agreements to the letter. If any unforeseen circumstances arise that would alter a custody schedule or impact a parent’s visitation or physical custody time with their kids, they must communicate these issues with the other parent in a reasonable time and manner. If you believe your custody agreement is unfair, imbalanced, or fails to suit your children’s best interests, it is possible to modify your custody agreement with the help of an experienced Riverside family law attorney.
Your attorney can help you file a petition for post-judgment modification to your child support order. This petition will include your proposed change to your custody agreement and your reasoning for requesting the change. Once the court receives your petition for modification, the court will assign a hearing date for you and your coparent. If you can make a compelling case for altering your custody agreement, it’s likely to be granted. It is also possible to file a petition for post-judgment modification in light of recent events, such as a child’s newly discovered medical condition or educational need.
Our Riverside family law attorney can help you reach an agreement that is in your child’s best interests. Call us at 951-888-0631. You may also contact us online and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible. From our offices in Riverside, we provide legal counsel to people throughout Southern California.
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