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Areas of Practice Testimonials About Kathy Contact Us
Kathy Neumann

Call us today for a free consultation

Phone: 818-292-8658
Fax: 818-292-8660


Westlake Village

2625 Townsgate Rd, Suite 330
Westlake Village, CA 91361

Sherman Oaks

(Comerica Bank Building
in the Galleria)
15303 Ventura Blvd, 9th Floor
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Child Custody

When parents separate, whether because of a divorce, a break-up of unmarried parents (parentage action), a legal separation, or domestic violence, there are two types of child custody that must be determined:

Legal Custody - This is the legal right and responsibility of a parent or parents to make decisions regarding their child/children such as:

1. Enrolling the child(ren) in, or leaving a particular public or private school or daycare provider,

2. Participation in a particular religious practice or activities,

3. Beginning or ending psychiatric, psychological or mental health treatment, therapy or counseling,

4. Selection of medical, dental, or other health professional (except in emergency situations)

5. Participation in extra-curricular activities,

6. Out of State or Out of Country travel,

7. Decisions regarding the issuance of a driver’s license,

8. Decisions regarding the issuance of a passport,

9. Decisions regarding elective medical procedures and surgeries.

Most often, parents have Joint Legal Custody. This requires that the parents confer with each other about decisions affecting the health, education and welfare of the child(ren). If one parent fails to confer with the other parent, or acts in violation of the other parent’s stated wishes, there can be legal consequences.

Sometimes, even with Joint Legal Custody, one parent may be granted special and specific authority over certain types of decisions.

In rare cases, one parent will be awarded Sole Legal Custody and will have the legal right to make decisions about the child(ren). The Court will usually order that the parent with Sole Legal Custody notify the other parent of any decisions relating to the child(ren).

Physical Custody - This is the determination of the times that each parent spends with the child(ren). Joint Physical Custody does not necessarily mean that each parent will have equal time with the children. The public policy in California requires the judge to ensure that child(ren) have frequent and consistent contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, or ended their non-marital relationship, unless it is not in the best interests of the children. Judges encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing, except in circumstances that would not be in the best interests of the child(ren), such as when there has been a history of abuse or violence, or an absent parent. The best interests of the child(ren) may change as they get older, and custody may be modified to address the children’s changing needs. A parenting plan for an infant will be different than a parenting plan for an older child.

Courts do not, generally, make orders based on the gender of a parent. Factors that a court may consider when issuing orders for physical custody may include the age of the child(ren), which parent has been the primary care giver, the proximity of each parent’s home to the child(ren)’s schools, activities, community ties, other parent’s home, and to their extended family. When the child(ren) are of a sufficient age and maturity, the Court can consider their preference of a parenting plan.

In some cases, because of their hurt feelings, anger, and experiences, one parent will think it is not in the children's best interest to spend time with the other parent. The Courts are aware that no parent is perfect. Unless a parent has demonstrated that they pose a danger to the child(ren), a Judge will usually grant custodial time to both parents. A judge will also consider which parent is more likely to allow visitation with the other parent when issuing custody orders.

If a Judge believes that one parent may pose a risk of harm to the child(ren), or may act or speak to the child(ren) in an inappropriate manner, but also believes it is important to allow contact between that parent and the child(ren), the Court can order supervised or monitored visitation. The Court can also issue orders that are intended to prevent child abduction by one parent.

Emergency Custody Order - A parent, who has good reason, can ask the Court for emergency orders after very short notice to the other side. This type of proceeding is when you have good reason to believe the other parent will take the child(ren) out of the area or to an unknown place, the other parent has stated that they will not let you see your child/children, or the other parent’s bad judgement has placed your child(ren) in danger, or resulted in harm to your child(ren).

Modification of Custody Orders - A parent can request that the Court change existing custody orders, whether the current orders were by agreement of the parents, or a judge’s orders, either prior to or after the entry of a Judgment. The parent seeking modification will have to show that there has been a significant change of circumstances since the current orders were issued, and that the change in custody will be in the child(ren)’s best interests.

Call our office today to get answers to your questions about these types of proceedings.

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