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Understanding Your Rights And Obligations In Child Custody And Visitation Issues

For divorcing families, determining child custody and visitation can be the most contentious issue. Feelings are strong and compromise can be difficult to achieve when there is a difference of opinion. No matter whether you are considering separating and looking for information, facing a court-ordered custody evaluation, or are seeking to modify or oppose a request to modify your existing custody agreement, my courtroom experience can help you navigate through the system – understanding the process and knowing what your options are.

I am family law attorney Carsen Tazi, the founder of Cal Family Solutions in Sacramento. As a Certified Family Law Specialist* in California with over a decade of experience, my team and I have built this company to guide you to successfully navigate the emotionally charged questions surrounding the establishment or modification of child custody and visitation.

The Two Most Important Legal Terms In Custody Issues

Many people have misconceptions about custody in California as the legal term does not match what people mean when they speak about “custody.” In legal terms, custody is not the parenting schedule.

In setting custody orders, the court will decide on two different types of custody:

  • Legal custody is the ability to make decisions regarding the upbringing of the children. What religion will they be raised in? What school will they attend? The parent with legal custody also makes decisions about the children’s health care. The court typically sets joint legal custody, meaning that both parents have a say in the deciding of significant issues that pertain to the children’s upbringing. However, in instances of domestic violence, extremely high conflict, or a parent who is unavailable or refusing to participate among other possible justifications, the court may grant sole legal custody.
  • Physical custody refers to a parent that the child lives with after the divorce. The court often sets joint physical custody, which means that the children live with both parents for a significant portion of their time. The parent that the child resides with more often is referred to as the “primary” or “custodial parent.” In Sacramento and Placer Counties, it is very rare for a parent who has any significant parenting time with their child or children not to have joint custody. Sole custody will typically be seen in the event of domestic violence or when supervised visitation has been ordered.

The determination of these types of custody and parenting time takes a number of factors into consideration, including the age of the children and the levels of parental involvement in their children’s lives, among others. Above all, the court will always be seeking to promote the best interests of the child or children at the heart of the matter. I offer guidance to those who are going through traditional litigation, those who are resolving their divorce in a negotiated settlement, and those who aren’t quite sure how their situation will progress.

Required Mediation In California

In California, “mediation” (actually called Child Custody Recommending Counseling or “CCRC”) is required when custody or visitation issues are not agreed upon in advance either as part of a divorce, parentage case, or a possible modification to a prior order. Mediation, when approached thoughtfully, can be a very useful tool for achieving your goals. I have coached many of my clients to help them maximize the benefit of the time and energy they put into mediation. Each County has its own rules and procedures that can vary dramatically between counties. In Sacramento and Placer Counties, called “recommending counties,” if agreement can’t be reached during recommending mediation, the mediator will make a written report and recommendation to the court. This makes the effective and persuasive communication of your position during mediation all the more important. As an attorney experienced in many areas of California family law, I offer a broad base of guidance from the basics to advanced solution building that you can use to develop your own parenting plan.

Find Out About Your Options

I accept major credit cards for my clients’ convenience. Call 916-287-3237 or contact me online to learn more about how I can help you. My office is located in Sacramento, and I serve clients throughout the greater Sacramento area.

*Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of California