Establishing child custody and visitation rights in California are some of the most emotionally-charged and contentious issues when divorcing your spouse or separating from your partner. It is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable family attorney on your side to help ensure your visitation rights are established and protected during the proceedings.
Legal Standard When Establishing Visitation Rights in CA
No matter the type of visitation rights you seek to obtain, the central question that a judge will ask when analyzing this issue is what is in the child’s best interests or children. Basically, this means the court will work to ensure that visitation and custody will be established with the goal of maintaining a level of stability for your child or children, and the visitation rights will ultimately benefit the child or children. For example, if you have an unpredictable schedule or travel a significant amount of time for your job, the court is likely going to take this into consideration when assessing your visitation rights.
Overview of “Reasonable” Visitation Rights
During the proceedings, the judge overseeing your case may state that you, or your ex-spouse, are entitled to “reasonable visitation.” Basically, this means that you and your spouse will need to devise a plan for establishing amicable visitation rights that focus on your child’s or children’s best interests. For a “reasonable” visitation schedule to work in practice, there needs to be a level of cooperation and understanding between you and your spouse. If you have reason to believe that you and your ex-spouse will be unable to actually implement and adhere to a reasonable visitation plan, you should make this known during the proceedings. If the issue is raised during the process, a judge could establish a fixed visitation schedule.
Overview of “Fixed” Visitation Rights
If you and your ex-spouse are unable to reach a reasonable visitation schedule, a potential alternative is a fixed visitation schedule established by the court. When it comes to fixed visitation rights, the judge overseeing your case will set forth the times, and even locations, where the non-custodial parent can meet and spend time with their child or children. Some courts prefer establishing a fixed visitation schedule in an effort to provide a level of consistency and stability that your children can rely on.
Fathers’ Visitation Rights in California
If you are the presumed father of a child, you possess a legal right to visit your children and to request joint or full custody. Your legal rights are intact regardless of whether you were married when your child was born, or unmarried. As mentioned previously, courts utilize the child standard’s best interest to analyze disputes related to visitation requests from unmarried fathers.
When it comes to fathers’ visiting rights in California, it is important to keep in mind that courts typically presume a child will derive a benefit from having both parents involved in their lives and during their formative years. This is why unwed fathers should have a level of confidence when requesting visitation rights or custody from a court.
On the issue of visitation rights for fathers, one of the first steps in the process is for the father to legally establish paternity. Once paternity is confirmed, they are bestowed with the legal rights and obligations of a father. In many instances, this simply means that both the mother and the father sign and file an acknowledgement of paternity with the appropriate state agency or court, either at the time of the child’s birth or subsequent to their birth. However, in disputed paternity cases, you need to be prepared to engage in a legal process that may include administering a DNA test.
As mentioned, when paternity is formally established, the father has the legal right to pursue visitation rights and/or custody rights. In fact, a number of states allow a father to simultaneously file for recognition of paternity and visitation rights or custody of their child.
Grandparents Are Eligible for Visitation Rights in California
There are laws in place in virtually every state in America that enables a grandparent to pursue visitation rights for your child or children. Grandparents can request that a court grant them the right to continue having a relationship with the child or children. However, each law is unique in the requirements for a grandparent to secure this legal right. Furthermore, many family courts will strongly consider a parent’s preference in their decision to reduce or avoid visitation time with a grandparent.
If you are a parent considering limiting the visitation time of a grandparent, make sure to assess the potential positives and negatives of this decision. For example, suddenly cutting off all contact with a grandparent could result in the grandparent escalating the situation and taking you to court to obtain visitation rights. Nevertheless, if you have valid reason for seeking to reduce or deny the visitation rights of a grandparent (e.g., you have reason to believe they are being abusive, neglectful, etc.), it may be beneficial to resolve the matter in court.
Ramifications When a Non-Custodial Parent Fails to Utilize Their Visitation Rights with their Children
If a non-custodial parent fails to utilize their allotted visitation time with their child, or children, this could lead to the custodial parent seeking a modification order from a judge to the overarching visitation order.
Have Questions About Visitation Rights? Speak to an Experienced Attorney
If you are going through a divorce and encounter difficulties related to the issues of visitation and/or custody, now is the time to take action and contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney like Jeremy Castro. As a parent, Jeremy possesses a deep understanding of the stress and anxiety commonly associated with visitation and custody issues. More importantly, Jeremy understands the heightened-degree of importance and sensitivity that need to be taken when addressing these disagreements. To ensure you receive the best legal advice possible and are taking the necessary steps to protect your legal rights as a parent, contact the Castro Law Offices today.