Child Custody

Torrance Child Custody Lawyer 

In child custody cases, there is no room for error. The outcomes affect the lives of children and their parents for years. Because so much is at stake, turning to a trustworthy and experienced attorney like Michael D. Shook, Attorney At Law, is important. He has worked as a child custody lawyer in Torrance for 30+ years, serving families throughout Los Angeles County. With his extensive know-how and skill, you can trust him to fight for your rights and the well-being of your child or children. To speak with Attorney Shook about the details of your case, reach out to set up a free case review. 

Call (310) 361-2977 or connect online

Types of Child Custody in California

California law outlines two types of custody:

  • Legal: Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make important decisions about a child's education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and more. 
  • Physical: Physical custody refers to which parent a child lives with daily.

Parents can have either sole or joint custody of a child or children. When a parent has sole custody, they have exclusive rights and responsibilities for making decisions and providing day-to-day care for the child. The non-custodial parent may still have visitation rights, depending on the circumstance.

Joint custody generally means that both parents share legal and/or physical custody of the child. It involves shared decision-making and parenting time.

Parenting Plans 

Divorcing spouses or unwed parents can set up custodial arrangements independently by developing a parenting plan. Once drafted, signed, and submitted to the relevant court, this plan becomes a binding agreement. Custody matters can be complex and fraught, however, and require parents to settle disputes in court. 

How do California Courts Decide a Fair Custody Arrangement

California courts attempt to always look out for the best interests of a child when determining a custodial arrangement. They often opt for joint custody over sole. 

Factors they consider when making custody decisions include but are not limited to:

  • The relationship a child has with either parent.
  • The educational, health, and social needs of the child. 
  • Whether the child is at risk of abuse by one parent or another. 
  • A parent’s criminal history or use of illegal substances. 

Children do have a say in a custody arrangement. When it is inappropriate for a child to participate in a court proceeding, a judge will assign a representative (either a guardian or attorney ad litem) to investigate or represent the child’s best interests. 

California law prohibits courts from discriminating against parents because of their gender identity, gender expression, or sexuality when making custodial arrangements. 

Visitation Rights for Non-Custodial Parents

Visitation agreements are an important aspect of child custody. They outline the visitation rights and schedules for non-custodial parents, ensuring they have regular and meaningful contact with their children. In most cases, parents can draft these agreements without going to court. An agreement should include details about the frequency and duration of visits, holiday and vacation schedules, transportation arrangements, and any necessary restrictions or special provisions. If parents cannot agree on visitation, going to court is necessary. 

Can You Modify a Custodial Agreement?

Understandably, parents could need or want to alter a custodial arrangement or a visitation schedule. Parents cannot make changes without formally filing for them. Doing so could lead to serious legal consequences, including the loss of custody. 

To modify a custody agreement, parents must agree on the changes. Should both parents consent to the modification, they need only to file it with the court to finalize the change. 

When one parent disagrees with the modification, a judge will hear the case. Typically, a court will require the parent who wants the modification to provide evidence of a significant change in their life that necessitates a new agreement. Additionally, the parent must demonstrate that the modification will be in the child’s best interests. 

Consult with a Torrance Custody Attorney Today 

Set up a free, convenient consultation to discuss your situation and how Torrance child custody lawyer, Michael D. Shook, can assist you. Working with Attorney Shook is affordable, and he can set up payment plans. Do not go another day without retaining an attorney to fight for what is fair for your family. 

Reach out online or call (310) 361-2977

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