Child Custody & Support Attorney in Los Angeles, California
Child custody and child support are among the key divorce issues that need determination before a divorce is final. In a California divorce, child custody agreements are often made to determine the rights, duties, and responsibilities of each parent. Likewise, establishing a quality child support arrangement is vital to maintain a child's living standard and ensure that they are properly catered to.
If you are considering a divorce or amidst the divorce process and want to understand how child custody works or establish or modify a child support arrangement, consulting with a knowledgeable California family law attorney is crucial for proper guidance.
Gomez Law, APC is dedicated to providing outstanding legal services and advocating for the legal rights of you and your family. The attorneys at Gomez Law, APC are available to review your unique circumstances, enlighten you about how child custody is determined, and help establish or modify a child support arrangement. Using their extensive experience, they will seek to protect your best interests and family's future.
Gomez Law, APC is proud to serve clients in Los Angeles, California, and throughout the surrounding areas of Los Angeles County, including Pasadena, Glendale, and West Covina.
Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement
In a divorce or legal separation, it is essential to establish a child custody agreement to determine each parent's expected duties, rights, and responsibilities. When parents cannot agree on the terms of the custody or parenting plan, the California court will determine custody based on the child's best interests.
Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody
In a California divorce case, the court will grant custody either solely to one parent (sole custody) or shared between both parents (joint custody).
Sole Custody: In sole custody, the judge will award legal and physical custody to a single parent. This is often the case when the court considers the other parent unfit to raise the child, probably due to domestic violence, financial instability, alcoholism, or drug abuse.
Joint Custody: Conversely, in joint custody, both parents share legal and physical child custody. The parents will work together to establish a schedule that allows either parent to be with the child at different times. Also, the parents must agree on all decisions affecting the child.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
In addition, custody may be legal or physical.
Physical Custody: Physical custody involves the right and obligation to care for a child physically. The child will live with the parent who has physical custody. The custodial parent will handle activities such as bathing for the child, preparing meals, taking the child to school, and other day-to-day activities. The other parent (non-custodial parent) may have certain visitation rights.
Legal Custody: Legal custody involves the right and responsibility to make important life decisions regarding the child's upbringing. Legal custody deals with common issues such as healthcare, education, discipline, joining the military, religious training, and other vital matters that affect the child's welfare.
Factors in Determining Custody
In a contested child custody case, the California court will consider the following factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child:
The child's health, welfare, and safety.
Whether either parent has a history of violence, abuse, or neglect against the child or the other parent.
The nature and amount of contact with both parents.
The reasonable preference of the child (if at least 14 years old and mature).
Whether either parent has a history of illegal use of alcohol, controlled substances, or prescribed medications, and
Any other factor deemed relevant by the court.
Experienced child custody attorneys can evaluate your unique circumstances and work diligently with both parties to address custody matters peacefully.
Modifying an Existing Child Custody Arrangement
In California, the court may modify child custody or parenting time provided that the requesting parent can demonstrate that:
There has been a "material change of circumstances" that makes the current order ineffective.
A new custody order will serve the best interest of your child.
Knowledgeable divorce attorneys can help protect your custody rights and enlighten you about your available legal options to modify the existing child custody order.
Understanding Child Support in California
Child support is a court-ordered monthly payment from one parent to the other parent to help support or cover the cost of raising the child. The purpose of child support payments is to support the general well-being and cater to the child's needs, including food, shelter, education, clothing, and other essentials.
Factors Considered in Determining Amount
In California, child support is calculated using the state's Child Support Guideline – California Family Code, Section 4050 to 4076. To determine child support, the following factors and financial information will be considered or required:
The gross income of each parent.
The number of children in need of support.
The amount of time each child spends with each parent.
Child care expenses are incurred by either parent.
Any available income tax deductions that the parents can claim.
Mandatory payroll deductions, such as pensions, health insurance, and union dues.
Whether a parent supports children from another relationship.
Any relevant cost that the court deems relevant.
A skilled attorney can determine the right amount of child support and help protect your family's best interests and future.
In addition, income may be imputed for parents who are voluntarily unemployed, underemployed, or refuse to provide proof of their earnings. The California court will consider the following factors to determine whether to impute income to such a parent:
The parent's ability to work - A parent's work skills, educational level, and employment history.
The parent's opportunity to work - The availability of suitable jobs within the local area.
The parent's willingness to work – A parent's behavior or effort regarding finding a new job.
Modifying Child Support
However, child support payments are not set in stone. A parent can request for modification of the existing child support agreement if there has been a significant change in financial circumstances since the current decree was made. Some common reasons to seek child support modification include:
An involuntary job loss
A shift in custodial time-share
Another child with a different partner
Increased needs of the child
Termination of Child Support
In California, child support orders are legally enforceable until the child turns 18 years old. Parents are required to continue making support payments until the child's 18th birthday, unless:
The child is still attending high school full-time after turning 18 years.
The child has become legally emancipated.
The child is incapacitated and cannot earn a living.
The child passes away.
An experienced child support attorney can evaluate the surrounding circumstances of your unique situation and help you navigate key decisions.
Work With Knowledgeable Family Law Attorneys
Establishing a child support agreement or child custody arrangement in California involves several complexities. Creating a parenting plan with your estranged spouse, determining the amount of child support, allocating parenting time, and deciding parental responsibility can make the whole process even more complicated and stressful. Hence, if you need proper guidance navigating the child custody and child support aspect of your divorce, you must hire a knowledgeable family law attorney immediately.
The attorneys at Gomez Law, APC, are committed to offering comprehensive legal counsel, support, and reliable advocacy to clients in family law matters, including child custody and child support. As your legal counsel, they can evaluate all the details of your personal situation and explore your available legal options.
Child Custody & Support Attorney Serving Los Angeles, California
If you need proper guidance establishing or modifying child custody or child custody arrangements, contact Gomez Law, APC, today to schedule a simple consultation. The attorneys at Gomez Law, APC possess the experienced legal counsel, support, and brilliant advocacy you need to make intelligent decisions in your divorce case. The firm proudly serves clients in Los Angeles and throughout Los Angeles County, including Pasadena, Glendale, and West Covina, California.