Family law covers areas such as adoption, divorce, and child custody. Divorce attorneys or child support services practice family law and can represent clients in family court proceedings.
Family is diverse. Some family law attorneys in California focus on adoptions, paternity, and other matters. These lawyers aid with complex issues. Newport Beach family law attorneys can provide vital guidance in filing court petitions.
The following is an introduction to family law and its various applications in the judicial system.
Child Custody & Parenting Time
“Child Custody” refers to parents’ rights and responsibilities in caring for their children. If you are getting a divorce, you and your spouse must decide who gets custody of your child. Child custody arrangements also cover “visitation,” which is how each parent spends time with their child. Of course, it is not always smooth sailing, and sometimes both divorcing parents can’t see eye to eye on child custody matters. The wise course of action is to seek mediation, but if this also proves futile, a lawsuit may be in order. In California, you can request Child Custody Recommendation Counseling (CCRC) as a form of mediation. If both parties agree after counseling, the report outlines the agreement. The counselor recommends a method to split child custody if both couples disagree.
A visitation right, also known as timeshare, is a right that each parent can exercise for them to spend precious moments with their child. Arrangements for visits depend on the well-being of the child, the parent’s situation, and other factors.
Types Of Custody Orders
There are two kinds of child custody:
Legal custody is granted to the parent with authority to make decisions about the child’s health, education, and general well-being.
This could be:
- Joint denotes that the child is residing with both parents.
- Sole, where only one parent has the right to make crucial decisions for the children.
Legal parents can make these decisions for their children. They needn’t agree on every decision. Both parents should talk and collaborate to avoid difficulties and court appearances.
Physical custody is a parent’s right to have the child reside with them. It can be:
- Joint, which means that the children live with both parents.
- Sole or primary, the children often live with one parent and usually visit the other.
Joint physical custody isn’t 50/50. Children spend more time with one parent since splitting time is tough. That goes to say that the “primary custodial parent” has the child more than half the time. Note that there are instances when Judges would allow the sharing of legal custody but not physical custody.
You can consult Newport Beach family law attorneys to learn more about how legal and physical custody work in specific instances.
Types Of Visitation Orders
- Scheduled visitation: Parents and courts often set visiting dates and times for each parent.
- Reasonable visitation: Open-ended visitation allows parents to work out when children can be with each parent physically.
- Supervised visitation: This visit requires adult supervision for the child’s safety and well-being.
- No visitation: This is required if neither parent’s presence harms the children physically or emotionally.
Unresolved disputes are sent to family court services or other court-related programs for mediation. It is not uncommon for disputing parents to have the court make arrangements for their child’s custody. Judges decide custody and visitation.
Are You Qualified For Custody Mediation?
Making decisions concerning your child without going to court may be possible through mediation. Both parties can agree on how to care for the child. In the early phases of mediation, parents answer questions together or separately to learn family history.
The mediator and the parents will decide on the most essential concerns and create a parenting schedule for the child. Child custody mediation sessions vary in each court. Some courts offer parents one-hour appointments. Others may have two or more 2- to 3-hour meetings with parents. This is a critical topic to ask when scheduling a mediation appointment since each court offers various services for parents.
Do not hesitate to contact Newport Beach family law attorneys if you require additional information on custody mediation.
Child Support – What You Need To Know
Child support is the amount a court directs a parent or both parents to pay monthly for a child’s maintenance and living expenses. California Family Code 4053 regulates child support. Both parents are accountable for raising their children, whether single, married, or divorced.
Each parent pays for their child’s necessities. Without a support order, the court can’t enforce this obligation. One parent must approach the court to establish paternity and child support when parents file for divorce.
California Family Code sections 4052 through 4057 outlines a statewide system for calculating child support. Parents disagree about child support.
The judge will decide on child support based on the prescribed guidelines. Child support calculation will depend on the factors below.
- The financial resources are available to parents.
- The total number of kids these parents have.
- The amount of time each parent devotes to their child.
- The status of each parent’s actual tax filing.
- Assistance for kids from other relationships.
Of course, when everything is settled in court, the child support order may also require that the parents split the cost of the child’s unique needs, such as travel and schooling. Newport Beach family law attorneys can assist you in learning more about the family code and the objective of child support.
Types Of Custody Orders
Falling Behind in Child Support Payments
Falling behind in child support payments might cause complications. Court disobedience can lead to jail time, and unpaid child support liabilities generate interest. By law, the judge couldn’t suspend interest charges.
Newport Beach family law attorneys are prepared to assist you in getting out of the pressure caused by child support payment deficits to prevent more issues with falling behind on payments.
Changing Child Support
The living circumstance of each parent may change. Thus, a significant adjustment in child support may be needed. For example, one parent’s income may lessen upon losing a job, or their available time to spend with their child may decrease. These factors are valid reasons to modify the parameters of a child support order.
Thus, conditions governing child support orders may change. It is best to seek the counsel of Newport Beach family law attorneys before filing court documents. Parents can write down and have the judge sign a new child support amount.
It is vital to note that existing child support orders need a court order to be officially modified and implemented. Child support won’t change unless a judge sets a new order. Even if both parties have verbally agreed on a child support modification, it is still vital to have the court officially sign the agreement. Also, you must keep your order for child support up to date.
Ending Child Support
Child support is no longer required when a child turns 18 and completes high school. If the 18-year-old child resides with one parent and is a full-time student, child support ends when they graduate or turn 19.
Child support ends if the child marries, has a civil partnership, joins the military, or dies. Parents, however, can decide to extend child support. In exceptional cases, the court can force parents to support disabled adult children.
Federal and California law requires all child support orders to include a medical support order. This means the court will need one or both parents to provide health insurance for the child as long as that insurance is available at a reasonable cost.
Child Support Agreements
Child support orders in California must follow the Child Support Guidelines unless one of the few exceptions applies. In general, if parents know their child’s support obligations and the amount of child support, they can still opt to agree on an amount that differs from the guidelines.
Parents should not be forced to pay the child support amount. Also, they are not qualified to get public assistance or apply for it to augment their child support payments. Parents can sometimes agree on a child support amount that meets the child’s needs before going to the judge for approval. Doing so will make the process easier and faster for the judge and everyone involved.
Parentage & Paternity
The court issues an order to establish the child’s legal parent in parentage cases, commonly referred to as paternity cases.
What It Means To Establish Parentage
Establishing paternity includes receiving a court order or signing a blood or paternity statement. Paternity should be established before a court awards custody, visitation, or child support.
In a parentage case, you can apply for child support, guardianship, and visitation. It’s also required if the parents weren’t married when the mother was pregnant, or the child was born. A California court may decide if a child has more than two parents. Sometimes not recognizing other parents harms the child.
Reasons For Establishing Parentage Of A Child
A child’s parentage is crucial. First, knowing the father and mother helps the child mentally. The child is entitled to the same rights and privileges as a legal child. These legal rights and privileges are:
- Financial support from both parents.
- Legal documents identify both parents.
- Have the names of both parents on the child’s birth certificate.
- Access to medical records and family history.
- Parents’ health and life insurance.
- Right of inheritance from father or mother.
- Right to Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits, if applicable.
Ways To Establish Parentage
When parents are unmarried, there are two ways to establish parentage. Sign a voluntary declaration of fatherhood or acquire a court order on your own or with the help of a child support agency.
A voluntary statement of parentage in California recognizes both parents as the child’s legal parents. Nobody can force parents to sign a statement of parentage. The benefit of a parentage declaration is that it identifies a child’s parents when they aren’t married.
Child Abuse & Neglect
Under California law, child abuse occurs when someone physically, sexually, or emotionally hurts a child. In contrast, child neglect is carelessness that risks a child’s health or welfare. Child abuse and neglect can be put into the following categories:
- Sexual abuse includes molestation, rape, fondling, and incest.
- Physical abuse encompasses cruelty and unjust punishment.
- Emotional abuse leads a child to withdraw or act out. Emotional abuse gives a child severe mental or emotional trauma.
- General neglect is when a parent/guardian or caretaker doesn’t provide food, clothes, shelter, or supervision.
- Severe neglect endangers a child’s health, especially severe malnutrition.
- Sexual exploitation pushes children beyond their abilities to conduct illegal or degrading actions.
What Does The Law Say?
Like other states, California’s child abuse statutes are in the Penal Code.
These California statutes address child abuse, neglect, and endangerment. Penal Code 270, this law tackles child abandonment and neglect.
The Penal Code 273d says what it means to abuse a child in California. Since this is a wobbler offense, anyone who intentionally damages a child might be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Newport Beach family law attorneys can help you understand more about the Penal Code.
Guardianship is when a judge orders someone other than the child’s parent to have custody of or manage the child’s possessions.
A guardianship is not the same as an adoption. Parents retain parental rights in guardianship. They can request kid contact. The court can end a guardianship if the parents can care for their child. Courts oversee guardians.
Adoption permanently ends parents’ rights. Both birth parents and adoptive parents have the same legal rights. Adopted children have inheritance rights from their adoptive parents, just like birth children.
Two Types Of Probate Guardianship
Guardianship of the person
In-person guardianship is like parenting. The guardian has legal, physical, and all parenting decisions. Legal guardians might be family members, friends, or outsiders.
The guardian is also responsible for willful child damage. Sometimes loving parents require guardianship.
Guardianship of the estate
A guardianship of the estate oversees a child’s money and property until 18. That goes without saying that sometimes an heir may need a guardian. The surviving parent is usually the child’s guardian.
Sometimes a guardian also acts as a trustee of a person’s estate. There are instances that the court may appoint two .guardians who exercise oversight over the minor children’s money and property.
Juvenile Court Guardianship
A court order establishing legal guardianship specifies who exercises care for a child other than the parents. Legal guardians share many parental rights and responsibilities. They can decide on the child’s living situation, schooling, and medical care.
In a juvenile delinquency case, your child is accused of breaking the law. The court will consider your child’s age, the severity of the crime, and whether or not the child has ever been in trouble with the law.
If your child is admitted to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), they will spend the first 30 to 90 days in a reception facility. The center will determine your child’s education and care. Your child will then be sent to a juvenile detention center or a summer camp.
When A Minor Is Arrested
Police have two alternatives if your child is arrested: Make a note and release your child—another option is to send your child to a shelter, care, or counselor.
There are times that the police may give notice to you and your child for an offense. There is no need to panic. It is best to read and follow the notice. The next thing to do is send your child to the detention of Juvenile Hall. While there, your child can make two calls within an hour of detention. A parent, guardian, relative, or boss can be phoned, while a lawyer must take the other call.
Your parental duties are acknowledged by the legal system. You’re financially responsible for any harm your child causes. You must pay restitution if the judge requires it. Restitution is paying for damages your child caused. You may have to pay for stolen things, medical bills, or lost wages.
With these rights and other California laws, juvenile and adult offenders’ victims had a voice in the criminal justice system and the right to get their money back through restitution.
How does the law define adoption? Adoption makes a non-biological parent of a child become legal parents. After adoption, adoptive parents have full parent-child rights and duties. Of course, the child’s origin, such as birth parents and siblings, can’t be changed. In contrast, adoptive parents may be birth parents’ stepparents or domestic partners, or non-blood relatives.
Types Of Adoptions
Stepparent/domestic partner adoption, where a parent’s spouse or domestic partner adopts the child. One essential requirement of this type of adoption is that the pair must be married or domestic. This type of adoption is more accessible than the rest since one birth parent stays with the child.
Adoptions can be done independently, through an agency, or international organizations. Independent adoption involves no agency or Department of Social Services (DSS). Do note that in most cases, DSS or a certified agency handles agency adoptions. There are also instances where children born abroad are adopted to gain a country’s citizenship.
Steps To File An Adoption
Adopting stepparents or partners. If you are a step-parent considering adoption, think carefully and try to answer these questions.. Were you married to the birth parent when the child was born? In some states, unions or domestic partnerships are considered marriages.
Still, living with a biological parent? Answering yes to both questions indicates parentage. That helps establish stepparent adoption—no research or report-writing need for the social worker. There’s no court hearing.
The adoption agency will likely handle these steps for an independent or international adoption and guide you. Read the steps to learn the method. Do note that existing parents’ rights are not necessarily terminated if they and the adoptive parent reach an agreement.
If you live in Newport Beach, consulting with Newport Beach family law attorneys before deciding is a course of wisdom.
Notifying The Other Parent Of The Adoption
Stepparent or domestic partner adoptions end parental rights. The other birth parent usually approves. The court can withdraw their rights even if the other biological parent objects.
The court won’t do this without the other birth parent’s input. In cases of disputes, it is not uncommon for judges to decide about parental rights. Just imagine the opposite. You wouldn’t want your child’s other parent and new spouse to remove your parental rights behind your back, right?
You can consult Newport Beach family law attorneys for assistance if you’re having trouble contacting or informing the other parent of the adoption.
Emancipation is a legal way when a child reaches the age of 18 or becomes an adult, and their parents no longer have legal authority over them.
However, the court can take back the emancipation if the minor who asked for it lied to the court or can’t take care of themselves anymore.
During the emancipation process, if you find yourself in this dilemma, Newport Beach family law attorneys can advise you on how to handle it.
There Are 3 Ways To Get Emancipated:
A child can emancipate in three ways. The first is in marriage. Under-18s must seek written parental authorization and a court order to marry.
Next is military service. Under-18 enlistees need approval from both their parents and the military.
Lastly, If a judge declares you emancipated in court. To get emancipated, you must file court papers. This is your liberation “petition.” You alone can seek to be emancipated.
Being able to handle this process on your own is an advantage. On the other hand, the Newport Beach family law attorneys could be beneficial in documenting and maintaining a record of your proceedings for future reference.
How Can You Qualify For Emancipation?
You should meet all of the following conditions to be granted emancipation:
- You must be at least 14 years old.
- You do not reside with your guardian or parents.
- Your parents are not attempting to get you back and are content with this.
- Your own finances are under your control.
- Your means of support are legitimate.
- Your “best interests” would be served by emancipation.
What Changes If You Become Emancipated
With emancipation, you can make life decisions your parent or guardian would generally make. Emancipation often makes you a legal adult, but not always.
Parents no longer influence liberated children. When you reach 18, your legal guardian’s role expires. If you’re a foster kid or a juvenile court ward, emancipation affects your legal status.
Is Emancipation Right For You?
You must convince the court that emancipation is best for you. As we’ve mentioned, you must be financially and emotionally stable. This means you can cover housing, living, and educational fees.
This is a high, strict standard. When thinking about becoming free, ask yourself, “Why do I want to be free?” “Why would I be better off not living at home?”
The Newport Beach family law attorneys can help you sort your thoughts and answer these questions openly. They’ll help you lawfully strike a balance between your independence and your own contentment.
Newport Beach Family Law Attorneys At Moore Family Law Group
Consider all the advantages of having a family lawyer if you’re unsure whether you need to engage an attorney for your California case or another family law issue. Newport Beach family law attorneys can perform tasks you may not be able to do on your own or do them more swiftly, effectively, and efficiently.
When your family is already experiencing enough conflict, hiring a family lawyer in California, like Newport Beach family law attorneys, can result in a simple and more straightforward case. Don’t handle the legal process yourself if you’re already stressed. Hire a lawyer.