For those dealing with custody and visitation issues, whether you are going through a divorce or are unmarried, here are some basic rules on how Orange County courts determine custody and visitation in a divorce. First, let me say that as a father of three children I understand the need to have a continuing good relationship with your children. And, if the relationship has already been damaged, you will want frequent contact to repair and restore the relationship. I want to commend you. The fact that you want to have an intimate relationship with your children is wonderful. I hope you find the information below helpful.
The first and primary factor in any custody or visitation court order is the children’s best interest. Courts will take all the evidence and must make a determination in the children’s best interest. To determine what is in the best interests, courts must consider any “factor it finds relevant.” It also must consider the following:
A divorce takes time. Though a divorce can finish in 6 months, a divorce can take longer if there are disagreements over one or more issues. If there is a need for a trial, even longer. During this time, parents should try to come to agreement on parenting issues. If an agreement cannot be reached, one parent will need to seek temporary orders. This will be a very important request, because temporary custody orders have a significant impact on permanent orders. The children’s need for stability and continuity is always a major factor in custody orders. So, make sure that you hire an experienced Orange County child custody and visitation attorney to help you prepare your request. If you are going to do it yourself, make sure that you prepare your paperwork with all the key facts, so the judicial officer can make the right decision.
When you ask a court for temporary orders in Orange County, you will be required to attend mediation. It will be court ordered, so attendance is mandatory. Mediators sometimes exert pressure to come to an agreement, and there are times that mediators will have their own biases and opinions come out. It is important to be prepared for these mediation appointments. In counties, where the mediator makes a recommendation to the court when an agreement is not reached, preparation is even more important. In Orange County mediators will not testify, but they can make recommendations to the court. If there is sufficient cause, the mediator can also refer your case to child protective services, recommend a child custody evaluation, or a child custody investigation. So, being prepared for the mediation is very important.
One way to be prepared for an Orange County court-ordered mediation is to read the Orange County Parenting Guidelines. Do more than read it, study it, so you are properly prepared. Your attorney cannot attend mediation with you, so your attorney should also help you prepare.
If mediation does not work, you will have a hearing to present your case as to why temporary and custody visitation should be ordered in the way you want. Up to the hearing and sometimes at the hearing, you may be urged to settle either by the attorneys, including your own, or the judicial officer may hint or suggest that the parties reach an agreement. Sometimes the judicial officer will want to take the attorneys in chambers (usually his office behind the court room) and try to encourage settlement. It is important to understand what you want and the chance of getting what you want. An experienced custody and visitation attorney will help you weigh the pros and cons. Strategy is key. You must take into consideration what evidence and facts will be available for the judge to decide in your favor. Remember it’s about the facts, it’s not about your opinion. It is not about the opinion of your attorney. It is all about what the judge thinks about what you want and whether it is in line with the children’s best interest.
Song Family Law - Mission Viejo
27201 Puerta Real, Suite 300
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Song Family Law - Orange
500 N. State College, Suite 1100
Orange, CA 92868