Child Custody and Child Visitation
Our lives frequently revolve around our children and even the thought of not being with them everyday can shake us to our core. Child custody and child visitation cases are some of the most complex and hard fought issues in our family courts, and for good reason. When parents split up children can have normal lives and strong and healthy relationships with both parents and their new families when BOTH parents are heavily involved in the child’s life. Mesnik Law Group is highly experienced in handling all types of child custody cases including the difficult and complex move-away, issues with parental alienation, cases involving domestic violence, long distance parenting, cases involving Child Protective Services aka CPS or CWS, change of custody, and legal custody issues just to list a few.
Standard Custody Situation
In the standard custody situation where both parents live within the same geographical location and there are no allegations of abuse or neglect, the court’s goal will be to determine a child sharing schedule that addresses the following considerations:
- Maximizes both parents time with the children as equally as possible.
- Ensures the children’s frequent contact with each parent.
- Considers parents and children’s schedules.
- Creates consistency and stability for the children.
Other major factors the court will consider are any previously established or long standing custody arrangements, distance of the parent’s residences, each parent’s work schedule and availability to care for the children, siblings and half brothers and half sisters, proximity of child’s school from each parent’s residence, child’s extracurricular activities, and in cases with older children the child’s preference can play a major role in determining a custody schedule.
Preference for 50/50
California Family Code §3040 establishes an order of preference by which the Court should consider in making child custody and visitation orders. The first preference is “To both parents jointly”. It is well established law in California that a joint child sharing plan with equal custody for both parents is highly favored. However, joint custody is not always possible or in the child’s best interest. Experienced attorneys such as those at Mesnik Law Group will help you understand if your case is right for a 50/50 sharing plan or not. There are many versions of the equal sharing plan such as the week on week off schedule, what is called the 2-2-3 alternating weekend schedule, and the 2-2-5-5 schedule.
Move Away Cases
One of the most difficult cases are when one parent decides to relocate to another geographical location in what we call a move away case. These cases are difficult because it usually means that one parent will lose frequency of in person contact with the children. The court must decide if the children will relocate with the moving parent or stay behind with the remaining parent. The courts are mandated to review a number of factors in every move away case which come from the landmark LaMusga case (pronounced la mushay), such as each parents level of contact, the age of the child, stability of current custodial plan, each parent’s willingness to encourage contact with the other parent, distance of the move, extended family support, and if the move is done in bad faith.
We have handled numerous move away cases and know how to give you the best chance to keep your children with you.
Cases Involving Domestic Violence
In child custody cases where there has been documented domestic violence the law presumes the perpetrator of domestic violence should not be granted sole or joint legal custody of the children. This can create an imposing obstacle for the perpetrator if they desire sole or joint legal custody although not impossible if the presumption can be outweighed by other factors. If you are facing accusations or domestic violence or are a victim of domestic violence Mesnik Law Group knows the effects on your child custody matter and can help you obtain the best result possible for your children.
Parental Alienation or the Uncooperative Parent
Courts can and will change custody, limit contact, or sole physical and legal custody, or order supervised visitations for parents who cannot or simply will not co-parent children. Many parents are subject to alienation by the other parent and often feel helpless to do anything about it. Let us help you regain some control. Contact us to discuss your options.
Cases Involving Child Welfare Services aka Child Protective Services, CPS, CWS
The CPS case workers can be extremely intimidating often leading parents to believe they have the power of the Court to order compliance their plans. However, the fact is that they do not have the power to make orders only judges can do that. They do, however, have the authority to bring a case to the juvenile Court and ask a judge to intervene. It is always prudent to cooperate with an investigation by any governmental agency such as CPS. If you are separated from your child or children’s other parent and you are contacted by CPS you should contact us immediately to help you understand your rights and seek relief from the Family Court if possible.
Contact us for more information about your child custody case and for a free consultation.