Frequently Asked Questions


We have decades of experience in ingeniously solving custody problems, from fine-tuning agreements for special needs children and for inter-state or international custody-sharing to settling or litigating high-conflict chronic custody problems. Bring us your custody problems; we’ve got the tools.
Q. How are child custody issues decided?

A. California encourages parents to reach an agreed custody arrangement, whenever possible, without the need for a judge to interfere or make the decision for the parents.  California requires that parents attend mediation before any (non-emergency) hearing involving custody or visitation. The only purpose of that mediation is to assist the parents in reaching an agreed custody arrangement.

If parents cannot reach an agreement, a judge will conduct a hearing and make a custody decision that the judge determines to be in the children’s best interests. California law assumes that frequent and continuing contact with both parents is in the best interest of the child. A parent asking to restrict the other parent’s contact with the child will have to show why the court should order such a restriction.

Q. Can child custody orders be changed?

A. California child custody orders are always subject to modification by agreement, or by a new court order. If a parent demonstrates to a judge that the circumstances have cghangde, and that the children’s best interests require a change in the custody arrangement, the court may order such a change.

Showing of a change of circumstances to justify a modification will depend on a number of factors such as the order in effect, the time that has passed since the old order was made, and the age of the child(ren).

Q. Will my child testify in court?

A. Although California law requires that courts consider the wishes of children who are of sufficient age and maturity to express a preference (and that children over the age of 14 be considered of such age and maturity that their preference must be considered) it is unusual for children to be called as witnesses in court. Also, consideration of a child’s preferences does not mean that the child gets to make a custodial decision by herself.

Q. Do judges favor giving custody to mothers?

A. Not in California; the Court will make custody orders consistent with the child’s best interests  Maintaining frequent and continuing contact with both parents is considered the best interest of the child except in specific circumstances. While there may be logistical reasons (work schedules, travel time and distance between parents or to and from school, extremely young child still nursing, etc.) why one parent may not be able to exercise regular extended custodial time, judges will generally try to maximize both parents’ time with a child, consistent with the realities of the parents’ and child’s lives.

Q. If the other parent and I have typically had a flexible schedule, do I still need custody orders?

A. Even flexible schedules sometimes break down, or result in disagreement; a custody order provides a default set of rules and schedules for those times.

Q. If the other parent is not paying support, do I have to allow visitation?

A. Support and custody orders are independent. The failure to pay support doesn’t change the  custody order; the failure to permit exercise of custodial time doesn’t suspend an obligation to support a child. We have the experience and tools to enforce court orders for custody and for support; contact us if you need our assistance.


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