Santa Monica Child Custody Lawyer

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As a parent, you want a Santa Monica child custody attorney who is intelligent, compassionate, and aggressive when fighting for your custody rights. At Fernandez & Karney, we offer comprehensive representation in all child custody matters, whether part of a more significant California legal case such as a divorce or paternity suit or a stand-alone issue like a custody modification.

Child Custody Lawyer

Our law firm founders and managing partners, Steven Fernandez and Mark Karney, are Certified Family Law Specialists by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, and have the experience and resources to provide you with the quality legal representation you want and deserve.

Fernandez & Karney’s child custody attorneys are:

  • Honest and forthright when providing you with advice.
  • Respectful and responsive to your questions and concerns.
  • Focused on practical solutions that are tailored to meet your needs.

When it comes to your child custody case, we understand that time and cost are crucial factors. That’s why our Los Angeles County family law firm’s size and legal infrastructure are designed for efficiency. We are not just managing cases; we are managing your case, ensuring that even the most complex legal disputes are handled with precision. Our unique approach to each case sets us apart and is tailored to your needs and circumstances.

With our knowledgeable attorneys boasting over 120 years of combined legal experience, you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands. Contact our Santa Monica child custody attorneys today to learn more about our customized approach to producing results for your critical case.

No Matter How Complex Your Case, Our Santa Monica Child Custody Attorneys Can Help

At Fernandez & Karney, our Santa Monica child custody lawyers understand that when you need help with a child custody case, young people’s livelihoods hang in the balance—including the details of where they will live and how much time they will spend with each parent. The decisions made during our negotiations or litigation inside the courtroom may shape your children’s futures, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

No matter how complex your child custody case, including those involving high-conflict relationships, we are committed to ensuring you understand California’s child custody laws and how they support our legal strategies. We want you to feel empowered and confident when making the best choices for yourself and your children, and we will act as your guides throughout the legal process.

Fernandez & Karney’s child custody attorneys are also available to do the following on your behalf:

  • Prepare and file court documents, including final custody orders.
  • Represent you in negotiations or courtroom litigation.
  • help you in preparing a workable child custody plan.
  • Find creative solutions to complex parenting issues.
  • Resolve related matters such as child support.

Call or contact Fernandez & Karney’s Santa Monica law office in person or online. Our Santa Monica family law lawyers look forward to meeting with you at your convenience and will strive to resolve your legal issues diligently, no matter how complicated.

How is Child Custody Determined in Santa Monica, California?

The family court in Santa Monica, California, prefers parents make their child custody and visitation arrangements privately during negotiations with their attorneys or mediation whenever possible. However, the court will stipulate a custody plan when the parents cannot agree.  

When the court must order a child custody plan, it does so according to the child’s best interests. 

This is determined by many factors, including but not limited to:

  • The health, safety, and welfare of the child ( Code § 3011(a)(1)).
  • The desires of the child, beginning at age 14 ( Code § 3042),
  • The stability of each parent.
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent ( Code § 3020(a), § 3011(a)(2)(A), § 3044).
  • Habitual illegal use of controlled substances and abuse of alcohol or prescription drugs by either parent ( Code § 3011(a)(4)).
  • Each parent’s ability to care for the child.
  • The nature and amount of contact the child currently has with each parent ( Code § 3011(a)(3)).
  • The family court may make any orders regarding child custody during the child’s minority that seem necessary or proper ( Code § 3022) if the parents cannot agree in child custody mediation.

The court has broad discretion when making child custody determinations, so it is crucial to partner with skilled Santa Monica child custody lawyers who know the laws and understand how different judges and staff conduct their courtrooms.

While family law judges have extensive leeway when determining the factors they deem relevant to their cases, the court may not consider either parent’s sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation when making decisions. We will ensure your case is viewed based on its merits so you can pursue the best outcome for your overwhelming, important case. Contact our skilled child custody attorneys in Santa Monica today to get the help you need to face your future confidently.  

The court has broad discretion when making child custody determinations.  However, the court may not consider a parent’s:

  • Sex
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression 
  • Sexual orientation

What is the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody in Santa Monica, California?

In Santa Monica, California, there are two types of child custody: legal and physical.

Both types of custody may be joint, shared, or sole.

When parents share legal custody jointly, both have the right and responsibility to make decisions about a child’s welfare, health, and education. Parents who share joint legal custody of a child do not have to agree on every decision but should communicate when making decisions to avoid the need to return to court.  

A parent with sole legal custody may make these decisions without consulting the other parent.

Physical custody refers to where a child lives. Like legal custody, physical custody may be joint or sole. Due to the parent’s and child’s schedules, joint physical custody does not necessarily mean a child spends precisely half the time with each parent.

Are California Parents Required to Create Parenting Plans?

While California law does not explicitly mandate the creation of a parenting plan, the court generally requires parents to submit a proposed plan for custody and visitation as part of the divorce or separation proceedings. If parents cannot agree, the court may intervene and establish a strategy based on the child’s best interests.

Parenting plans typically address various aspects of California child custody and visitation, including:

  • Legal and Physical Custody.
  • Visitation Schedule: How the child spends time with each parent, including holidays, vacations, and special occasions.
  • Communication: How parents will communicate with each other about matters related to the child, including methods of communication and frequency of contact.
  • Parenting Time and Exchange: Provisions to set exchange locations, deadlines for requesting changes to the parenting schedule, and more.
  • Parenting: Potential rules about discipline, the child’s possessions, and looking out for the child’s health.
  • Child–Parent Relationship: Setting ground rules for a parent’s communication with their child, including about new romantic partners.
  • Education and Extracurricular Activities: Setting rules about school attendance, parents’ participation in extracurricular activities, and other related topics.
  • Medical and Healthcare: Medical provisions about payments, appointments, and more to avoid conflict about your child’s health.
  • Travel and Moving: Stipulations for your parenting plan about traveling with the child and moving.
  • Child Support: Addressing the child’s financial support, including the amount of child support to be paid and how expenses will be divided between the parents.
  • Dispute Resolution: Establishing a process for resolving disputes or disagreements that may arise regarding the parenting plan.

Creating a parenting plan allows each parent to have a say in their children’s custody and visitation arrangements. It can also help minimize conflict and confusion during and after the divorce or separation.

Our skilled child custody attorneys in Santa Monica can help you develop a comprehensive parenting plan that serves the best interests of their children and keeps you and their other parent from misunderstanding the details of your child custody agreement or court order. Contact us today to learn more about how our Santa Monica family law firm leaves no detail to chance.

We Also Focus on the Following Areas in Santa Monica:

Contact Our Experienced Santa Monica Child Custody and Family Law Attorneys for Help Today

If you have a child custody case in Santa Monica, speak with a dedicated family law attorney at Fernandez & Karney as soon as possible. The law firm’s founders and managing partners, Steve Fernandez and Mark Karney, are Certified Family Law Specialists by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, and they have the experience and resources to provide you with the quality legal representation you want and deserve.

Do not allow your legal burdens to weigh you down. Let Fernandez & Karney shoulder your concerns and legal issues so you can confidently move forward.

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