Child Custody and Visitation Lawyer Serving Sacramento

For divorcing families, setting child custody and visitation can be the most contentious issue. Feelings are strong and compromise can be difficult to achieve when there is a difference of opinion. No matter whether you are facing mandatory mediation, a divorce trial or are seeking to modify or oppose a request to modify your custody agreement, my courtroom experience can help you. I am family law attorney Carsen Smith and I can help you successfully navigate the emotionally charged questions surrounding the establishment or modification of child custody and visitation.

Many people have misconceptions about custody and visitation in California. In determining custody, the court will decide on two different types of custody:

  • Legal custody: is the ability to make decisions regarding the upbringing of the children. What religion will they be raised in? What school will they attend? The parent with legal custody also makes decisions about the children’s health care. The court typically sets joint legal custody, meaning that both parents have a say in the deciding of issues major and minor that pertain to the children’s upbringing. However, in instances of abuse, neglect or abandonment, among other possible justifications, the court will grant sole legal custody to one parent.
  • Physical custody: refers to a parent that the child lives with after the divorce. The court often sets joint physical custody which means that the children live with both parents for a significant portion of their time. The parent that the child resides with more often is referred to as the primary custodial parent. When questions of protection or safety for the children exist, the court may order sole physical custody to one parent.

The determination of these types of custody and parenting time takes a number of factors into consideration, including the age of the children and the levels of parental involvement in their children’s lives, among others. Above all, the court will always be seeking to promote the best interests of the child or children at the heart of the matter.

Mediation Preparation in California

In California, mediation is required when custody issues are coming before a court either as part of a divorce or a possible modification to a divorce decree. What is referred to as “mediation” is typically a process called child custody recommending counseling (CCRC). When approached thoughtfully, can be a very useful tool for achieving your goals. I have helped many of my clients to help them maximize the benefit of the time and energy they put into mediation. In most counties, if an agreement can’t be reached during mediation, the mediator will make a recommendation to the court. This makes the effective and persuasive communication of your position during mediation all the more important.

Relocation Requests

I also have experience in effectively presenting the case for granting a relocation with children to the court as well as opposing requests to relocate.