Child Custody Lawyer Proudly Serving Santa Rosa, CA
When an individual facing a divorce first contacts our office, their primary concern from the onset is usually the matter of child custody. Every good parent worries throughout the divorce process about their child’s well-being. But working out child custody doesn’t have to be a confusing and traumatizing event. Upon retaining an experienced Santa Rosa Child Custody Attorney at Vandyk Law, we will walk you through each step with communication and confidence.
The first step will be to put a child-sharing schedule into place. We will work with the other side to determine the most pragmatic schedule that benefits the child and both parties. The matters of holidays, vacations, extracurricular responsibilities, long-distance travel, and places of exchange are all addressed. Once an agreement has been reached, it will be signed by both parties and submitted to the court for judicial approval. If approved, the judge will sign the agreement, making it an official order of the court. If this process is achieved with little to no resistance from either party, it will be determined an Uncontested Divorce.
But if there is contention and issues that can’t be agreed upon, it may be necessary to commence litigation, making this a Contested Divorce. The stress of this type of divorce can be drastically lessened with the help of an accomplished Santa Rosa Family Law attorney. Carolyn Vandyk and her team will work diligently to come to a resolution with the other party that is most advantageous for you and your children.
Best Interest of the Child/Children
The California court system has our same goal in mind when determining custody in a divorce proceeding. Their standard in all decisions is what is in the best interest of the child. Some of the factors used to determine this criterion are:
- Wishes of the child (If old enough to provide preference);
- Mental & physical health of the parents;
- Religious beliefs and upbringing;
- Age and sex of child;
- Parental use of excessive discipline or emotional abuse;
- Parental use of drugs, alcohol, or sexual abuse.
These aspects are crucial in a judge’s custody determination and must be established early on in a case. The attorneys at Vandyk Law have helped several clients to make the requisite changes in their lives to meet these strict standards. When it comes to a child custody ruling, no stone should be left unturned in doing what is necessary to maintain time with your child.
During a Contested Divorce, the judge will order an extensive investigation into the child’s routine, home life, and overall well-being. A 730 Evaluation may be used as an investigatory tool to help the judge make a decision. Often the judge will order it, but it can also be stipulated to by the parties. The person conducting the evaluation is usually an expert in the field, a psychologist, clinical social worker or family therapist. They investigate and interview both parents and then report back to the judge. The judge uses this study to make his custody ruling.
Two Types of Joint Custody Agreements
There are two types of custody that will be determined by the Judge, once the process of gathering information is complete: Joint Legal Custody and Joint Physical Custody.
Joint Physical Custody means the child will live with both parents who share “significant periods” of custodial time. This type of custody assures that the children will have “frequent and continuing contact” with each parent. However, it does not mean the child must split their time equally between each parent. It is not uncommon for children to spend more time with one parent than the other. The parent with whom the child spends more than half their time is considered the Primary Custodial Parent.
Joint Legal Custody occurs when both parents share the right and responsibility to make the important decisions concerning their child(ren). Some of these decisions include:
- School or child care
- Religious activities or institutions
- Psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy needs
- Residence (where the children will live)
Of course, some disagreements may arise when making these decisions, necessitating further court involvement. The attorneys at Vandyk Law can be you and your child’s advocate in seeing that their well-being is protected.
Call a Skilled Santa Rosa Child Custody Vandyk Law Today
The fear of losing time with a beloved child can incite some of the most intense and long-lasting stress imaginable. It’s so necessary to seek the help of a qualified and compassionate attorney to walk you through this trying process. The attorneys at Vandyk Law are ready to advocate for you and your child(ren) through the custody determination process. Don’t leave this most important responsibility to anyone else. Reach out to our compassionate team for a free and confidential consultation.