Murrieta Family Law Firm Temecula Divorce Attorney
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Temecula Child Custody Attorneys

Compassionate & Personalized Legal Services

If you are in the middle of a hotly contested child custody dispute in Temecula, look no further than our legal team at Singleton Smith Law Offices, Inc. to protect your rights and best interests, as well as your children. With more than 25 years of combined experience, we have helped many parents obtain the best possible outcome in court by providing them with attentive and responsible legal assistance.

We can thoroughly examine your case, listen to your concerns, and determine all your legal options. Do not hesitate to let our firm guide you through the complexities of family court.

Contact us today at (951) 779-1610 for a free initial consultation.

Child Custody Laws in California

Child custody is defined as the rights and responsibilities each parent has for taking care of their children. According to California law, either parent can have full custody or share custody.

There are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions about the child’s health, education, and overall welfare, while physical custody means where the child will live after a divorce or separation.

Legal Custody

Either one parent can have “sole legal custody” or both parents share “joint legal custody.” Sole legal custody means only one parent has the right to make all major decisions related to the child’s safety and wellbeing, while joint legal custody gives both parents the authority to make such decisions.

The court generally gives both parents joint legal custody, unless they are unable to make decisions together, one parent is unfit, or one parent to having sole legal custody is in the child’s best interests. Remember, if parents have joint legal custody, that does not mean they will also share join physical custody.

Physical Custody

“Joint physical custody” means both parents will spend equal and significant time with their children, while “sole physical custody” means the child will live with only one parent, while the other parent receives visitation time. Whether a child lives with one parent exclusively or primarily, that parent is commonly referred to as the “custodial parent,” while the other parent is the “noncustodial parent.”

How Child Custody is Determined in California

In California, the court start the custody evaluation by presuming both parents are entitled to child custody. A judge will decide on legal and physical custody based on the best interests of the child.

The following are some of the common factors a judge will considered to determine a child’s best interests:

  • The child’s health, wellbeing, and safety
  • Each parent’s willingness to work together with each other
  • Each parent’s criminal history
  • If either parent has a history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • The child’s opinion, if he/she is at least 14 years of age

Child Custody Modification

Over time, the child’s needs or a parent’s life has changed enough to where the custody order requires modification. If both parents can agree to change the custody order, they can jointly submit their new agreement to the court for a judge to approve.

If one parent wishes to modify the order, but the other parent does not agree, then the one who request modification must show that there has been a significant change of circumstances that requires a new custody order. Once again, the judge will decide based on the child’s best interests.

If you are interested in establishing or modifying child custody in Temecula, call Singleton Smith Law Offices, Inc. today at (951) 779-1610 to discuss your case with our legal team.


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