Family Law Overview

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Representing Parents in Child Visitation Disputes in Carlsbad, CA

When married parents divorce or unmarried parents separate and no longer wish to live together, these couples must determine child custody and visitation through the family court system. The court has a legal obligation to ensure that any child custody and visitation schedule assigned to a family aligns with the child’s best interests. If you are expecting to divorce in the near future, or if you are an unmarried parent and you and your coparent no longer intend to continue your relationship and live together, you should prepare for a challenging but necessary child custody and visitation determination.

Attorney Paula D. Kleinman has more than 20 years of experience representing clients in Carlsbad, CA and surrounding areas in their child custody and visitation determinations. Our team has successfully guided many past clients through difficult family law proceedings, ensuring their child custody, child support, and visitation determinations are fair and in alignment with their children’s best interests. We understand that for a parent, few legal matters can be as stressful and emotionally challenging as a child custody and visitation determination. If you intend to make the strongest possible case for custody, we can provide the legal guidance you need to navigate your case proceedings with confidence.

Why Do I Need a Child Custody Lawyer?

While it is technically possible to enter a child custody and visitation determination without legal counsel, this is not a promising idea if you wish to maximize your custody and visitation rights. Having an attorney assist you with this legal process will greatly increase your chances of securing the custody and visitation schedule you hope to obtain. Attorney Kleinman and her team can provide comprehensive legal counsel, helping you make the strongest possible case for custody rights and ensuring all relevant information related to your child visitation determination comes into play.

We understand that approaching any child custody or visitation case can be incredibly difficult. It’s hard to predict how your case may unfold and what to expect from your case proceedings, but our team can provide the clarity you need to better understand your situation and your options for fighting for maximum custody and visitation rights.

Understanding Custody and Visitation in California

Whenever the family court system must determine child custody and visitation, the court has a legal duty to carefully review many factors concerning each of the parents and determine the best possible arrangement of custody and visitation rights based on each parent’s living situation, work history, availability, and psychosocial capabilities as a parent. The court also has a responsibility to carefully address any variables that may influence a parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children, such as substance abuse, history of domestic violence, income, and more.

It’s important to separate and understand the terms “custody” and “visitation.” Child custody refers to the ability to make major decisions on a child’s behalf and providing space for the child to live. Legal custody refers to decision-making authority, while physical custody refers to living arrangements. Visitation, on the other hand, is more applicable when one parent does not have physical or legal custody rights. A parent with visitation rights typically only gets to spend time with their children occasionally, sometimes with required supervision.

The family court system of California upholds that most children benefit and enjoy the most fulfilling lives when they have equal access to both of their parents. Unless the court determines that a parent is unfit or if they present a danger to their child’s health or safety, the court generally strives to divide legal and physical custody rights as fairly as possible while accounting for each parent’s income, availability, and competency when it comes to providing for their children. Visitation is more likely to come into play if a parent has broken the law, has a substance abuse disorder, or has engaged in some type of domestic violence in the past.

What Types of Visitation Are Possible?

A parent has physical custody rights when their children live with them for some portion of the year. When the parent does not have any physical custody rights, they may or may not receive visitation rights depending on the court’s interpretation of their fitness and competency as a parent. If the court determines that a parent is unfit for custody but deserves visitation, the judge overseeing the case will decide what type of visitation schedule would best suit the child’s best interests:

  • Schedule-based visitation. This type of visitation arrangement functions around important dates on a regular schedule. For example, the court may develop a visitation schedule based on holidays or important dates for the family, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, and other holidays.
  • Reasonable visitation. If the parents are agreeable with one another and the court determines they are able to negotiate regular visitation without strict rules from the family court, reasonable visitation is a possible outcome for their visitation determination. Under this type of arrangement, the parents must communicate with one another and determine the best possible visitation times based on each parent’s availability. However, if this type of arrangement leads to disagreements or other issues between the parents, one or both of them may return to family court to seek a more clearly defined visitation schedule.
  • Supervised visitation. This type of visitation arrangement is most likely when a child has not had contact with a parent in a long time or if the parent has broken the law in the past or poses some danger to the child’s safety and wellbeing if left unsupervised. The court may issue this type of visitation arrangement if a parent and child need time to get to know one another again or if the court requires proof the parent will not endanger the child if granted expanded visitation rights in the future.
  • No visitation. It’s possible for a parent to be barred from contact with their child if the court determines that contact would harm the child physically or emotionally. If a parent attempts to violate this type of visitation determination, they could face severe legal penalties.

Your visitation determination will depend on the family court judge’s interpretation of you and your coparent’s relationships with your child. A Carlsbad child visitation attorney can help you ensure that the judge has all relevant information they need to make a valid, safe, and informed decision about you and your coparent’s child visitation rights.

The judge deciding visitation must assess numerous factors about each parent and their child. This includes the age and overall health of the child, including their emotional and psychological status. The judge will also carefully review the child’s relationships with each of the parents and the child’s ties to their community, school, and extended family.

Can I Modify My Visitation Schedule?

The family court system acknowledges that life can present unexpected changes and challenges, and your current visitation order may be untenable in the near future due to forces beyond your control. The modification process allows any party beholden to a family court order to petition for a change to their visitation rights through a process that is more straightforward and simpler than an appeal. For example, if you have a supervised visitation schedule and have adhered closely to it as carefully as possible for over a year, and you have overcome whatever factors led to the judge’s original determination that supervised visitation was best for your child, you could petition for expanded visitation rights to override the need for supervision. It’s also possible for a parent to petition for reduced visitation rights for their coparent if they have repeatedly failed to follow their visitation arrangement’s rules.

The party seeking modification submits a petition to the family court describing their desired change and the evidence they have to support their request. The court sets a hearing date and allows both parents to appear before a judge to explain their respective sides of the issue. If the judge determines the requested change is reasonable and aligns with the child’s best interests, they can implement the desired change with immediate effect.

What to Expect From Your Carlsbad Child Visitation Attorney

When you choose Attorney Paula D. Kleinman to represent you in a child custody and visitation determination, you can expect comprehensive legal counsel that remains focused on your child’s best interests and your rights as a parent. We understand that it can be extremely difficult to share parental rights and parenting time with your coparent, especially when there are complex personal issues between the two of you. Rest assured that our team can help you make the strongest possible case for custody rights, and if you are awarded visitation, we will help you gather all evidence necessary to secure the most expansive visitation rights possible for your situation.

Our team can also help you if you later have any issues with your visitation order. Whether you need to request greater visitation rights or hold your coparent accountable for violating the terms of your current visitation order, we can help. Contact Paula D. Kleinman today for more information about how our firm can assist you with your Carlsbad, CA child visitation determination.

While the Covid-19 Shelter-In-Place Executive Orders is in place my office is fully functioning; thus I am available to prepare ex parte documents, Temporary Restraining Orders, and prepare filing to be filed when the Court opens. Please contact my office at 760-643-4114 to discuss further.