Divorce is common among married couples in California. During the divorce process and after the whole issue is completed, children present in the marriage are the most affected parties. After the divorce, there are many issues that you need to be solving. Some of these are spousal support, child support, parental custody rights, as well as grandparent custody and visitation. If you cannot agree on these issues among yourselves, you may be required to petition the court and settle the matter with the help of a judge. Discussing the rights for involvement in your child's life and getting support after a divorce could be quite complicated. Therefore, you should seek help from an experienced lawyer like the Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer for legal help.
Overview of Right Issues After a Divorce
A divorce process could be both psychologically and emotionally draining. Moreover, you will need to agree about the numerous issues that arise from divorce. Apart from the emotional suffering of the divorced parties, children who find themselves in the middle of a divorce will suffer the most. The outcome of the divorce and relationship created between the parents is likely to affect their mental state.
Some of the rights issues that arise from divorce include child custody rights. Most courts prefer to award children custody to one of the parents if they are in a condition to take care of them. However, a third party, such as a grandparent, could petition for legal and physical custody. The issue of child support from a non-custodial party may also arise during the separation since both parents are required to contribute to the child's upbringing.
When you are getting a divorce, payment of spousal support/alimony will need to be discussed. Alimony gets provided to a party who may have dedicated their lives to a child's upbringing. Also, a father's rights in the child's life may be an issue that arises in the middle of divorce proceedings.
In most cases, you are required to decide upon yourselves on the sharing of rights after the divorce. Unfortunately, some divorces are very rough, and mediation is not a possible option. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on these issues, you may need to involve the court by filing a petition. For divorces that ended up on a rough note, the agreement on different rights gets complicated. Therefore, it is crucial to get help from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer.
Parent Child Custody Rights
Child custody is one of the significant issues that arise after a divorce. Child custody is considered as the rights and responsibilities that each parent has in taking care of their children. In California, the law always prefers to have joint physical and legal custody to ensure children get support from both parents. However, this may not always be possible. During and after the divorce process, you can agree among yourselves on the custody rights issues. However, if you cannot resolve the matter, a judge may have to make the decision.
There are two types of custody orders, including:
If you are awarded the physical custody of a child, you will live with them and decide where they travel to and where they live. Physical custody could either be solely awarded to one parent or both parents. When sole custody is granted, the child will primarily live with the custodial parent, and the other one can petition for visitation rights.
On the other hand, joint physical custody allows the child to live with both parents. However, the time spent with each parent doesn't need to be equal.
Having legal custody of children means that you get to make important decisions about their lives. Joint legal custody allows both parents to be involved in decision making, while sole legal custody gives one parent the rights without a need to consult. When the care is joint, one parent could make the decision, but getting consent from the other parent is essential to avoid further legal issues. However, most judges prefer to award joint legal custody to ensure that a child receives a balance of care from both parents.
When a parent is awarded legal custody, they get a right to make decisions on:
- Religious activities and institutions in which a child should belong
- Schools and child care services
- Psychological and mental health counseling that the child should undergo
- The health care services that a child gets unless there is an emergency
- Travel options and destinations for the child
Divorce can be very tough for children who were used to having both parents around. When deciding on a child custody case, the court will always try to ensure the children's best interests are met. The following factors are considered when making the decisions:
- Health and Safety of the Child
The court prefers to give joint custody to parents upon an agreement. However, the judge will want to ensure that the child is safe with the custodial parent. An individual who has a criminal history for murder or other violent offenses may find it challenging to acquire child custody. Also, the court is reluctant to award unsupervised visits for parents who have a history of domestic violence and child abuse.
- Co-parenting Skills
When awarding custody, a parent who is more likely to encourage healthy co-parenting may have the upper hand. If both parents are in the proper mental state and aren't a threat to them, the court encourages constant contact between the parents and the child.
In most cases, a judge may order joint legal custody but sole physical custody. This is the case, especially when parents do not live in the same area. The arrangement allows the children to have a stable life in terms of schooling and the environment in general.
- Child's Preference
For children who are mature enough, the judge may want to listen to their opinion before making custody decisions. However, there isn't any specific weight that the child's view puts on the decision.
- Parent's Ability to Care for the Child
The court will consider your ability to care for the child. Parents who have mental illnesses or a history of child abuse may not get child custody.
When custody is awarded to one parent, the other parent can receive visitation rights. If you file a petition as a grandparent, you could be allowed visitation with your grandchildren. Visitation can be:
- Visitation as per schedule. The schedule helps parents and children have detailed plans to avoid conflicts.
- Supervised visitation. When one parent poses a threat to a child's Safety, the visitation will need supervision from an adult.
- Reasonable visitation. An order for reasonable visitation doesn't specify the time and duration of the visit. The order is open-ended and up for discussion between the parties involved. The visits and contact is made at any time when the need arises
- No visitation. When visiting with a parent, even after supervision is harmful to the children, the court could order no contact between the parent and the child.
Some people may argue that the court favors women over men when it comes to child custody. However, California law assumes that each parent has equal rights and responsibilities towards a child. When a child is born during the marriage period, the law automatically assumes that they belong to both parents. Even after a divorce, the parents have equal rights to involvement in the child's life.
During and after a divorce, some of the fathers' rights include:
- You have a right to get involved in your children's lives and spend time with them
- However, the rights are exercised if you are not a threat to their Safety
- Participation in parenting
- You are entitled to have a say in making crucial decisions about the life of the child
- You have a right to see medical and school reports of the children
- Deciding and participating in decisions regarding medical care
- As a father, you have a right to parent the children without interference from the other parent
- Imposing discipline on the child
However, it is vital to understand that fathers' rights are accompanied by responsibilities to protect the child and contribute financially towards their lives. If you cannot agree with the other parent on your rights as a father, you can get guidance from an attorney.
Grandparents Custody and Visitation Rights
When it comes to child custody issues, the court always prefers to put a child with either of the parents. However, some circumstances may prompt awarding custody of a child to a third party. Often, grandparents have emotional ties with the children, and these ties could suffer when they get divorced. If it is in the child's best interests, the judge will consider awarding visitation rights to the grandparents. However, the following factors are considered when deciding to award grandparent visitation:
- The minor has lived with the grandparents for one year or more
- A pattern of regular visitation or child care from the grandparents to the child is established
- The grandparents have financed the basic needs of the child for a period not less than one year
- Other circumstances that denial of visitation will produce a negative effect on the children
Due to the increased incidents of family-related trauma, grandparents have seen themselves get frontline care for children. There are circumstances under which the court could award custody to the grandparents after a divorce, including:
- The parents are deemed unfit to take care of the child. If you are hoping to get custody of your minor grandchild when their parents are still alive, you need to petition the court about the issue. However, you may be required to prove that the parents are unfit to take care of the child. This could be a result of drug abuse, mental instability, or incidences of child abuse.
- The parents are deceased. When a custodial parent dies, the court opts to award custody to the other parent. However, if the grandchild lived with the grandparent, they could have a chance to acquire custody.
- The child has lived for more than one year with the grandparent. It is not easy for a grandparent to acquire custody even when parents are divorced. However, if the child was residing with the grandparent for a year or more, they may petition for custody.
- The parents' consent to grandparent custody. Divorce could be messy and sometimes affect a child's welfare. If divorced parents could consent to it, a grandparent can acquire child custody.
Child Support Issues After a Divorce
In most cases, parents are assumed to arrange taking care of the child both physically and financially when they are married. However, after a divorce, these responsibilities may need to be agreed upon and strictly followed. Child support is the amount of money ordered by the court and paid to cover the children's expenses. Sometimes child support issues may seem straightforward. However, this is not the case since the process will involve legal and emotional problems arising from divorce.
Each parent has legal responsibility for contributing financially to their child's life. After a divorce, you are expected to agree upon yourselves on issues of child support. However, if you cannot make the agreement, you can file a petition and allow the court to do it for you. Even when you are in the middle of a divorce, financial support towards your child's upbringing continues under the following circumstances:
- You will continue paying child support until the children turn eighteen years and graduate from high school. If a child is a high school student or attends a particular school as a result of a medical condition, you will continue paying child support.
- If the child gets married, dies, or is legally free, child support will need to be paid.
- You will pay child support for your children under the age of nineteen years unless they join the military.
- If your child has a physical or mental disability, you will be required to continue paying the support until they can cater to their needs.
When a child support petition gets filed in court, the judge will look at the parent's source of income before deciding the amount of support needed. It is essential to understand that both the mother and father of the child have a responsibility to pay child support. The amount determined by the court gets paid to the parent who has custody over the children. The sources of finance that are considered when calculating child support include:
- Employment wages
- Earning obtained from self-employment
- Unemployment and disability benefits
- Interests from investments
- Social security and pensions
If you are the custodial parent, you have to receive assistance in the following expenses for your children from the other parent following a divorce:
- Monetary support. When it comes to child support, financial support includes food, clothing, education, and other essentials that a child may require. However, the judge will consider custodial arrangements before deciding on the amount of support that should get paid.
- Health insurance
- Back payments
- Interest on the back payments
In some situations, the judge could order the non-custodial parent to contribute the unpaid medical bills and also cater to traveling as well as extracurricular activities that are partaken by the children. The total amount that a parent is required to pay as child support for their children may depend on the following factors:
- The number of children who are involved in the case. Every child that was born during the marriage period will be considered for child support
- The tax liabilities for the involved parents
- The custody arrangements made after divorce. This will include the permanent residence of the children. Often, the non- custodial parent will pay child support to the primary caregiver. Also, if custody of a child is awarded to a third party due to parent incompetence, they will still need to pay child support.
- The presence of special children is considered. If a unique child who requires extra medical care is involved in a divorce, the child's health gets considered when calculating child support payments.
- Whether or not the parents have job-related expenses and retirement contributions is considered during child support cases.
When dealing with child support rights after a divorce, it is wise to get competent legal guidance throughout the process.
Contact a Competent Divorce Lawyer Near Me
Getting divorced is very tough and could take a toll on your emotional and financial life. It is more challenging to agree on how the rights to child custody and other issues brought about by divorce will be shared. This is because some divorces end on a rough note, and you may not be on talking terms with your ex-spouse. Since California's divorce laws are quite complicated, it is a good idea to enlist the help of an experienced California divorce lawyer like the Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer. We understand that you want your rights to be considered throughout and after the divorce, and we are ready to help you. Call us at 310-695-5212 to get our expert legal help.