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Los Gatos child custody attorney for divorced fathersChoosing to end a marriage or long-term relationship is never easy, and the divorce process can become much more complicated when parents need to determine how to handle custody of their children. Throughout the United States, there is a widely held misconception that single fathers are at a disadvantage in these cases and that they will only be able to secure custody rights if there is egregious behavior from the mother of the child. However, this is simply not true, especially here in the state of California. The state’s laws have recognized that fathers play an important role in children’s lives, and fathers and mothers should be treated equally in child custody cases. If you are a father who needs to address custody issues, you will want to work with an experienced attorney who can help protect your parental rights and your children’s best interests. 

Child Custody Laws in California

In the state of California, a father has the same rights as a mother when it comes to custody of children following a divorce or separation. In fact, a provision added in section 3020 of the California Family Code explicitly states that a parent’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation should not be considered when determining how to reach a decision about child custody that will meet children’s needs. 

Under California law, child custody comes in two forms: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody will determine where the child will primarily reside, whereas legal custody will define parents’ rights to make significant decisions for the child involving topics ranging from academics to religious beliefs. According to section 3080 of the California Family Code, it is presumed that it is in children’s best interests for parents to have joint custody. In some cases, legal custody may be shared equally, while one parent may have primary physical custody, and in other cases, children may spend equal or near-equal amounts of time with each parent.

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Posted on in Divorce

Los Gatos divorce mediation lawyerWhen you choose to get a divorce, that decision can result in a variety of challenges for the whole family. Not only will you have to grapple with the legal and practical issues involved in ending your marriage, but your children have to accept that you and your ex-spouse will no longer be living together or married to each other. The divorce process can be incredibly stressful for children. Litigating a divorce in the courtroom can not only increase the level of conflict between spouses, but it may also lead to potentially frightening court appearances for children. Fortunately, divorce mediation is an alternative method of resolving divorce issues, and it can benefit the entire family. 

Mediation and Children 

During the mediation process, you and your ex-spouse will work with a third-party mediator to talk through the issues surrounding your divorce and reach a settlement that you can both be satisfied with. This process can be incredibly beneficial in resolving matters related to child custody. These benefits include: 

  • The Child’s Voice Matters: Mediation will give you and your spouse complete control over the final decisions made throughout the divorce process. In cases involving child custody, this means that your child’s wishes can be communicated easily and can be taken into consideration. You want what is best for your children, and mediation provides you with a greater opportunity to address their wishes and ensure that the two of you will be able to meet their needs. 

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Los Gatos, CA divorce and child custody attorneyAs you prepare for your divorce, there is likely much on your mind. You may be plagued by questions like “How secure is my financial health?” and “Where am I going to live?” However, if you have children, your largest concerns are probably going to revolve around the issue of child custody. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help you achieve an outcome that will allow you to meet your children’s needs and be the parent they deserve.

1. Be Willing to Compromise

Divorce is often thought of as a hostile battle between two former spouses who can no longer stand to be around each other. However, this does not need to be the case, and if you share children with your former spouse, you will want to establish a relationship in which you can continue to work together as co-parents. During your divorce, you can help achieve a positive outcome by being willing to reach agreements on child custody matters with your ex-spouse. Divorce mediation is a great way to address these issues, and by working with a trained divorce mediator, you can reach compromises that you can both be satisfied with. Mediation often allows you to have greater control of the outcome of your case than you would by settling the issues through litigation in court.

2. Be Engaged as a Parent

Your divorce is likely to take up a great deal of your time and attention, but you will want to make sure you continue to be the parent your children need during this difficult time. By staying closely involved in their lives, listening to their concerns, and offering comfort and support, you can be a source of love and stability for them. Keeping up with your child’s academic standing, extracurricular interests, and friend groups can ensure that you know what is going on in their life and how you can meet their needs. If child custody issues do need to be addressed in court, you will be able to show that you are a parent who is focused on putting your children’s best interests first. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Los Gatos child custody modification attorneyWhen you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, the months ahead are often trying for both parties. Not only does each person have to cope with the difficult emotions that come with the end of a long-term relationship, issues such as the division of marital assets must be resolved. The divorce process can be even more complicated when children are involved. Whether you and your spouse come to an agreement about child custody and visitation through mediation or litigation, you may want to seek changes to the agreement at some point in the future. If you are interested in pursuing modifications to your custody agreement, you should seek out the help of a qualified legal professional. 

Modifying a Child Custody Agreement

In many cases, the easiest way to make a modification is through working cooperatively with your former spouse. If the two of you are capable of having a healthy and professional dialogue regarding what is best for your child, you may be able to come to an agreement entirely on your own and file the modified agreement with the court. In other cases, you can work with a counselor or family law mediator to assist in coming to a compromise. 

While working together is always the best option, an agreement sometimes cannot be reached between the two parents. If the other parent is unwilling to agree to your proposed changes, you will need to request a modification through the court. Once you have filed a petition to modify the agreement, a judge will hear arguments from both sides and make a decision about whether the requested modifications would be in the child’s best interests. 

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Los Gatos divorce lawyer for child abuse claimsTragically, more than 2.9 million instances of child abuse are reported in the United States each year, and many more cases go unreported. For children, the long-term implications of abuse can go far beyond the physical harm they suffer. According to numerous studies, children who have faced some form of abuse are less likely to excel academically, socially, or psychologically as they get older. While it is crucial to always ensure the safety of a child first, it is also important to understand that some child abuse claims are false or fabricated. In family law cases involving child abuse, parents should be sure to work with a skilled attorney, whether they have been falsely accused of abuse or are looking to protect a child from an abuser. 

False Accusations 

A child abuse accusation can drastically impact a person’s life. Not only can these allegations lead to potential criminal consequences, but other areas of one’s life can be affected, including their reputation, their family relationships, and their ability to find or maintain employment. Unfortunately, many claims of child abuse are made during divorce. If separating parents are addressing child custody in court, the claim that one parent has committed abuse can have a huge impact on the decisions that are made. In some cases, a parent may make false claims of child abuse in hopes of swaying the court to decide in their favor, or they may do so in an attempt to punish the other parent and restrict their amount of time with the couple’s children.

In California, a report of suspected child abuse will be investigated by a social worker who will examine the evidence and speak to any involved parties. Upon completion of the investigation, the social worker will report one of three findings: unfounded (no abuse occurred), substantiated (abuse was more likely than not to have occurred), or inconclusive. A substantiated finding may result in criminal charges, and it will be considered by the court when making decisions about child custody and visitation. 

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