It is the public policy of the State of California that, as a general rule, children should have “frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, or ended their relationship, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy, except where the contact would not be in the best interest of the child….” (California Family Code § 3020(b).) What this means, in practical terms, is that California has a preference for joint parenting arrangements.
How to effectively share custody, in the best interest of your children, can be a difficult problem to solve – especially if you and your child’s other parent are having difficulty communicating. And of course there are some cases where shared custody is not in a child’s best interest. The attorneys at The Wald Law Group will take the time to understand your family dynamics and help you assess what type of custody arrangement will be best for your children.
Parentage and Custody Disputes
At The Wald Law Group, we are committed to addressing custody disputes with an eye toward helping our clients and their co-parents attain a structure for their parenting that minimizes the likelihood of future legal battles, and with the children’s best interests always given the highest priority. We work closely with therapists and child development professionals to assure that our clients are getting the best advice and support possible. With extensive experience addressing both simple and complex parentage and custody disputes, we are glad to assist in making sure that you and your children are getting the best legal assistance possible.
“Best interest of The Child”
The California Family Code makes clear that custody and visitation determinations are to be made based on what is in a child’s best interest. There is no one “most important” factor in a best interest analysis. In the context of child custody cases, focusing on the child’s best interest means that all custody and visitation discussions and decisions are made with the ultimate goal of fostering and encouraging the child’s happiness, security, mental health, and emotional development into young adulthood. The attorneys at The Wald Law Group take these issues very seriously, and work closely with child development professionals (as appropriate) to try to assure the best possible outcomes for the children whom our work touches.
Physical versus Legal Custody
Child custody is divided into two main categories: legal and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right and responsibility to make decisions for a child regarding such primary issues as healthcare and education. Physical custody determines where the child lives. Both legal and physical custody can be held by one parent (commonly referred to as “sole” custody) or be held jointly by two or more parents. Regardless of whether the parents have joint physical custody or one parent has sole custody, there generally is an expectation that both parents will have “frequent and substantial contact” with the child. Custody time-sharing arrangements are flexible and varied. Some parents see their children only on holidays, whereas others split time equally with the other parent. Because every family is different, at The Wald Law Group we will work with you as an individual, to figure out what form of custody is in the best interest of both you and your child.
Parenting Coordination / Special Master
With over 17 years experience in child-centered family law, Deborah H. Wald is glad to offer Parenting Coordination/Special Master services. These services provide an opportunity for families struggling with more difficult custody issues to get the focused attention they need from an experienced team of attorney and mental health professional, thereby offering a more promising outcome than that often achieved in an overcrowded family court setting.
Grandparent and Extended Family Representation / Guardianship
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the 2000 U.S. Census, there are 4.5 million children under the age of 18 living in grandparent-maintained households in the United States, and another 1.5 million children under 18 living in other relative-maintained households. The Wald Law Group attorneys have great respect for family members who step in to assure that a child within their family system is receiving appropriate care in the face of parental unavailability or unfitness. Whether extended family members are assisting a child’s parent with obtaining legal representation or seeking visitation, custody or guardianships for themselves, we gladly assist extended family members who need legal representation to assure that their grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other child relatives are protected.