Need to Speak With a Child Custody Attorney?

Need to Speak With a Child Custody Attorney?

Contact The Attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski

We recognize that child custody and visitation is frequently the most important issue when couples separate, and we will aggressively protect your parental rights. The attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski will help resolve all issues concerning physical and legal custody of your child, so that you and your child may get back to some form of normalcy as quick as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions - Child Custody & Visitation

Q. What does child custody mean?

A. There are two types of custody: Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves the decisional power of the parents as it pertains to issues of education, health, religion, sports, etc. In most cases, both parents have shared legal custody, and through discussion arrive at a consensus regarding these issues. When consensus is not possible, however, then court intervention may be necessary. The custody attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP have the knowledge and expertise to prepare and present the best case to convince the judge your position is the correct position.

Physical custody means just that, having actual physical custody of your child or children. In California, the starting presumption is that both parents share physical custody equally in order to maximize the time the child spends with each parent. But the reality is that often this is not in the best interest of the child. The parents' work schedules, the child's school schedule, the child's age, the location of the parents' residences, the child's bond with one parent over another's, these are only a few of the factors considered when deciding physical custody. Here again, the custody attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP can prepare the best case to ensure you have as much physical custody of your child or children as you want.

Q. Can a man get custody of his child?

A. Absolutely! In California, there is no presumption that mothers are better caregivers and should therefore have primary custody of the children. This being said, there are many factors in determining physical custody of a child. The parents' work schedules, the child's school schedule, the child's age, the location of the parents' residences, the child's bond with one parent over another's, these are only a few of the factors considered when deciding physical custody. The custody attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP are knowledgeable and experienced in custody law and can prepare the best case to ensure you have as much physical custody of your child or children as you wish to have.

Q. Why does mother get custody?

A. Mother does not necessarily get custody. In fact, frequently both parents share physical custody of the children equally. Mothers will often have primary custody of the child when the child is very young. This happens because a mother will often stay home following a pregnancy and is the child's primary caregiver. Consequently, if a dissolution happens in the few years following the birth of the child, the mother will frequently be awarded primary physical custody of the child, while fathers will have visitation schedules, where they have custody of the child frequently, but for shorter periods of times, to minimize any anxiety a child may experience as a result of being separated from the primary caregiver. As the child gets older, visitation increases and eventually, both parties get to a shared custody schedule. The custody attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP are knowledgeable and experienced in custody law and can prepare the best case to ensure you have as much physical custody of your child or children as you wish to have.

Q. How does custody work with unmarried parents?

A. The major difference regarding custody when the parents are unmarried is that paternity is not presumed. In California, when a child is born during marriage, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. Conversely, when a child is born out of wedlock, paternity is not presumed and must be established via a parentage action. This is true regardless of the amount of years father has been caring for the child. Keep in mind that parentage is rarely contested and therefore easily ascertained. In those rare instances where paternity is challenged, DNA testing may be ordered by the court to determine paternity.

Q. Is it kidnapping if there is no custody order?

A. Probably not. Usually, a parent who takes a child without the consent and knowledge of the other parent is committing an abduction, not a kidnapping. A parent taking a child away from the other parent without their knowledge and consent can potentially lead to criminal charges, and at the very least will draw the ire of the court for the apparent refusal to co-parent.

Q. Can a parent leave the state with a child without the consent of the other parent?

A. It depends. Prior to the filing and service of a Summons and Petition for Dissolution or a Petition for Parentage, a parent can likely leave the state without the consent of the other parent. Once a proper summons and petition has been filed AND served, however, there are standard family law restraining orders that apply, restraining any party from removing the child or children from the state without written approval from the other party or court order. Keep ion mind, however, that a parent removing a child from the state without the knowledge and consent of the other parent can potentially face criminal charges for child abduction, and at the very least will draw the ire of the court for the apparent refusal to co-parent. If you are considering such actions, or believe your spouse is considering such action, the custody attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP are experienced in both criminal and family law and can advise you of the potential courses of action in your particular case.

Q. Can a custodial parent deny visitation rights?

A. Not legally. A parent has no legal authority to deny the other parent visitation. Only a judge, who issues a court order, can legally grant or deny visitation. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we have great experience in obtaining custody orders, as well as modification of existing orders.

Q. What are my rights as a father paying child support?

A. As a father paying child support, you have the right to a child support order that is reflective of the financial situation of both you and the other parent. In California, child support is very case specific and is determined based upon the incomes of the parents and their timeshare with the child. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we seek to obtain for you the timeshare you want and to which you are entitled. We also ensure that the other parent is both employed and earning a reasonable wage based on their situation. While parties are free to pay any support above guideline, our support attorneys are aggressive in ensuring that our clients are only ordered to pay that which is required under law.

Q. Can a child refuse to visit a custodial parent?

A. Legally, a child cannot refuse to visit a custodial parent without court order. In practice, particularly as children enter adolescence, it may become challenging to enforce a court's custodial order when the child refuses to visit the parent. While is it tempting to simply abide by the child's wishes and deny the other parent the right of visitation, the better practice is to seek an order from the court modifying custody. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, our custody lawyers understand the intricacies involved and the local practices in modifying custody orders.

Q. Does a child have say in visitation?

A. Whether a child gets a say in custody and visitation will depend on the circumstances. Generally, for children under the age of 12, the court will base its custody determinations on what is in the "best interest of the child," regardless of the child's particular desires. As the child enters adolescence, the court will give consider the child's desires in its analysis. Custody issues are extremely case specific. The custody lawyers at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP understand that each case is unique and there are many factors that will influence a court's custody determination. This is why every custody case begins with a comprehensive evaluation of the particular circumstances surround your case.

Q. Can Grandparents take parents to court for visitation?

A. Yes, under certain circumstances, grandparents have standing to petition the court for visitation. For instance, if the parents are unmarried or separated, or one of the parents cannot be found for more than a month, or the child was adopted by a stepparent, or the child does not live with either parent, or one of the parents is incarcerated or institutionalized, then a grandparent can seek a visitation order from the Court. Additionally, if one of the parents is deceased or joins in the petition with the grandparent, it is possible to obtain a visitation order. Please note that if the family unit is intact and both parents agree that the court should not grant visitation, the court will presume that visitation is not in the child's best interests and deny any visitation request. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we represent grandparents who seek visitation, as well as parents who wish to contest the granting of such an order.

Q. Who is considered an "unfit parent."?

A. Many factors are considered prior to a court determining whether a parent is "unfit." For instance, certain behaviors will have a serious impact on a court's determination of "fitness," such as child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, as well as psychiatric illnesses. Risky or unusual social behaviors which could negatively impact the child are also considered. For example, driving recklessly or while under the influence with the child in the car would weigh greatly in the court's determination. In addition to the more serious risk factors, a court will also look closely at a parent's understanding of the child's needs, and the manner in which they are met. For example, is the parent sufficiently and appropriately responsive and sensitive to the child's needs? What does history show regarding the parent's abilities in child care? Is the parent promoting co-parenting principles are alienating the relationship with other parents? In many circumstances, the court will appoint a "730 expert," usually a child psychologist, to investigate the parties, and assist in the custodial determination. These "730 experts" carry a lot of weight with the court and must therefore me carefully selected by the parent and their attorney. The custody lawyers at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP have more than forty years of experience in the Orange County courts and can help you with your child custody dispute.

Call or Text (949) 660-1400 or click "Schedule Now" to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys who can assist resolving your family law matter.