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Procedures for obtaining child custody in California

California parents who are divorcing will need to think about custody and support for their children among other things. The complexity of the process of arranging this will depend on whether or not the parents are able to successfully negotiate without going to court.

If the two parents are able to agree on a parenting plan, then the process may be easier. However, even if the divorce is amicable, both parents need to fill out and sign the correct documents, which include court forms and the agreement itself, also known as a stipulation. An attorney or family law facilitator should review the forms before getting a judge's signature and filing the forms.

Parents who are unable to reach an agreement will need to go to court. First, a family law case must be opened. These cases and custody disputes are not just limited to divorce; they may involve a paternity case or a domestic violence restraining order among others. Then, a parent must request a custody order by completing the correct documents, having them reviewed by a lawyer or family law facilitator and filing them with the court clerk. Parents may be required to meet with a mediator prior to the court date.

The other parent will be served with court papers, and after further paperwork, the mediation and court date will happen. Individuals should be aware that the custody order cannot be enforced unless the judge has signed the custody order regardless of the other parent's agreement. Regardless of the process used for obtaining custody, parents are advised to make multiple copies of all forms used.

Generally, courts try to make custody decisions that are in the best interests of the child. As a result, courts usually try to ensure that both parents have some access to the child except in special cases such as abuse or drug problems where visitation may be limited or prohibited.

Source: Findlaw , "California Child Custody Procedure", August 19, 2014

Source: Findlaw , "California Child Custody Procedure", August 19, 2014

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