Capable San Diego Attorneys Offering Guidance in Family Law Matters
When a couple with children parts ways, it is not only the spouses but also the children who experience the stress associated with the process. At Jenkins P.C., our compassionate family law lawyers understand the importance of assessing the details of each case that we handle in the San Diego area. We care about your child’s future and will make every effort to pursue what is in his or her best interests.
Child Custody Determinations
In California, there is an assumption that a child is better off if he or she has a healthy and ongoing relationship with both parents. This is why attorneys and judges will often encourage parents to come up with a custody agreement that works for their family. The idea is that you know your family best, you understand the needs of your child, and you presumably know what will work for everyone. Accordingly, joint custody agreements are highly favored, and if parents come up with a custody agreement together, the judge will likely approve it. Joint physical custody gives both parents equal control over the child and decisions relating to his or her life.
Unfortunately, the process is not always so simple. In many cases, couples face custody disputes and even litigation. When parents cannot agree, the judge will typically order mediation. If mediation fails, the judge will look at a number of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child and will create an agreement. Under California law, judges examine factors in two main categories: the health, safety, and welfare of the child, and the value to the child from continuing and maintaining contact with both parents.
The “best interest” standard is vague and broad. Thus, judges have a significant degree of discretion when it comes to applying it in any given case. Some factors that a court will typically examine include:
- Each parent’s criminal history, if any;
- How much time each parent has spent with the child;
- Each parent’s income and earning potential;
- Each parent’s lifestyle;
- The amount of time that each parent has available to spend with the child; or
- Any history of abuse or neglect.
As with most issues, the end result will depend heavily on the facts of the specific case. It is important to note that judges do not favor one parent over the other when making custody determinations. Put another way, a judge is not permitted to give preference to one individual merely based on the parent’s gender. In the past, there used to be a presumption that it was in the child’s best interest to stay with the mother, but this is no longer the case.
Discuss Your Divorce Proceeding with a San Diego Lawyer
The divorce attorneys at Jenkins P.C. are dedicated to assisting individuals in San Diego and beyond with the complex issues that arise from dissolving a marriage. Whether you are seeking an initial child custody order or a modification, we can help. We understand that these are sensitive issues, made even more delicate by the fact that vulnerable children are involved. This is exactly why you can expect the highest level of care, sensitivity, and compassion from our entire staff. We represent clients in Encinitas, Olivenhain, Cardiff, Carlsbad, and Solana Beach, as well as other communities. Do not hesitate to give us a call for an initial consultation