Davis Child Custody Lawyers Representing Northern California
- Pakpour Banks is based in Davis, CA, and is proudly serving Davis, Woodland, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Vacaville, Dixon, Fairfield, Roseville, Elk Grove, and surrounding areas.
- Our team has been successfully representing cases in Yolo County, Sacramento County, Solano County, Placer County, Colusa County, El Dorado County, and Yuba County.
Pakpour Banks LLP provides legal services to individuals involved in child custody disputes.
Child custody disputes are without a doubt the most emotionally difficult exercises family legal practitioners and family law litigants experience. Our relationships with our children are the most fundamental bonds we have. To place those bonds in the hands of a neutral third party and hope the outcome is positive can feel like gambling with one’s own identity. For children, the results can be even more catastrophic if the custody order does not accommodate their needs.
That being said, child custody orders are immensely important, for they provide a blueprint to building a new family, sometimes two new families, with which the children will grow and learn critical life skills. Child custody orders also provide certainty to family law litigants, allowing them to schedule their lives under a new family dynamic.
TWO KINDS OF CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS
There are two categories of custody, both of which must be decided: legal custody, and physical custody.
Legal custody determines which parent will make decisions involving the children’s health, safety, welfare, and education. This includes decisions about where a child will go to school, where and whether a child will engage in religious activities, and whether a child should receive medical care.
Joint legal custody means that both parents share in these decisions. Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the right to make these decisions, and may make such decisions without getting the other parent’s input.
Physical custody refers to where a child will live after a divorce or separation. If a child lives exclusively or primarily with one parent, that parent is usually referred to as the “custodial” or “residential” parent. The other parent is considered the “non-custodial” or “non-residential” parent and typically has visitation rights.
Joint physical custody means that both parents have significant periods of physical custody. If a child’s time is divided equally between the parents, or close to equally, the parents are sharing joint physical custody. Sole physical custody means that a child resides with one parent, subject to the court’s authority to order visitation time with the other parent.
In order to request a child custody order from the court, you must have already started a family law case. That typically means you are in the middle of a divorce, already completed a divorce, or were never married to the other parent, so you have commenced a parentage action. If you have done none of these, then you must start a family law case.
Modifying Child Custody Orders
Over time, children change and grow, and families’ circumstances often change. This means that a court’s child custody orders can also change and grow. Reasons to change a child custody order might include:
- A parent’s new job,
- New medical needs of the child,
- An incident of abuse in the child’s current household,
- A parent’s need to move, or
- Changing educational or extracurricular needs of the child.
This list is not exhaustive. There can be many reasons to seek a change in custody orders.
If parents agree on the terms for a new order, sometimes they can change the terms of custody or visitation by renegotiating their parenting agreement. Otherwise, a parent needing a change has to petition the court for relief. When you petition the court for this change, you’re asking for “modification” of a custody order.
Petitioning the Court to Change a Custody Order
You can have the family court change orders regarding the custody of your child if you can prove two things:
- There has been a significant change in circumstances since the last custody order; and
- A change to the custody order is in the best interest of the child.
It’s best to have a proposal for how to change the orders ready and written for the judge to review. The more reasonable a solution you can provide to a judge before they make their decision, the higher the likelihood of getting the change you need to keep your family unit strong. Our skilled California child custody attorneys can help you develop effective solutions before you head to court.
Changing a Custody Order When a Parent Needs to Relocate
Sometimes you and your family unit can achieve the most positive growth with a relocation. The steps you need to take to legally relocate with your child depend on the nature of your custody orders and the feelings of the other parent. If you can, it’s typically best to get the other parent to agree to your relocation. However, we realize that a relocation agreement is often a tall order when you and your child’s other parent are no longer together.
Relocating when you have sole physical custody
In general, you have the freedom to relocate with your child if you have sole physical custody over them. But if your child’s other parent doesn’t agree with the relocation and can prove that relocation would harm your child, you will have to stay in your current location or risk losing custody. Remember, the burden is on the other parent to prove that your move is harmful. Depending on your case, you might have to give the other parent at least 45 days’ notice before you move. The purpose of this notice is to allow for mediation regarding the move or negotiation of a new parenting agreement.
Relocating when you have joint legal custody
If you have joint physical custody of your child and the other parent doesn’t agree to your move, the burden is on you to prove that your move is in the best interest of the child.
Child custody is an extremely sensitive and difficult topic. It’s usually in your best interest to get attorney advice before attempting to change a custody order.
Make a Decision That’s in Your Family’s Best Interest by Hiring an Attorney
Our Davis child custody lawyers at Pakpour Banks LLP can advocate for your parenting rights with the utmost care and skill. Not only do we have the legal prowess and compassion to properly handle sensitive family law situations, but we also work hard to minimize cost and conflict in our clients’ cases. Our Davis child custody attorneys are about maintaining great relationships with our clients to help them win the best outcomes. Don’t hesitate to contact our lawyers online or call us if you need help.