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The Law Offices of W. Douglas McKeague The Law Offices of W. Douglas McKeague
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Child Custody

Orange County Child Custody Lawyer

Fighting for the Best Interest of Your Child

We know how important your children are to you. In the midst of divorce proceedings, coming to terms with the many legal decisions involving your children and your parenting rights can be extremely overwhelming.

Retain an Orange County child custody attorney from our firm guide you through this difficult legal process. We have more than three decades of family law experience and are ready to guide you!

How Do I File For Custody Of My Child In Orange County CA?

In order to file or change a court order for child custody or visitation, you should submit your paperwork at the Clerk's Office at the Lamoreaux Justice Center. The forms you need depend on your circumstances. Typically, if you currently have an existing open case, then you may file paperwork to the matter for a hearing.

Call for a free initial case consultation today - (714) 888-4830! Read Why Hire Us? to learn more about The Law Offices of W. Douglas McKeague.

How Is Custody Determined in California?

The only factors considered in determining custody cases are matters relating to the child's best interest, including but not limited to:

  • Best interests of the child
  • Child's wishes
  • Ability of the parents to work harmoniously
  • Child's health and safety
  • Maintaining a stable environment for the child

These dynamics can vary greatly, each having a specific effect on your family. At W. Douglas McKeague, you will find our experienced OC family lawyer who is prepared to assist you in reaching your desired child custody agreement.

Is California a Mother or Father State?

Generally speaking, California does not favor the mother or father. The State assumes the mother's husband to be a baby's biological father when a child is born to a married couple unless the child's father asserts his rights in a paternity case.

At What Age Can a Child Decide Custody in California?

In California, children at least 14 can express their preference for which parent they want to live with. The judge considers and gives weight to children's preferences when the children are "of sufficient age and ability to voice an intellectual opinion on custody or visitation." 

Types of Child Custody Agreements in California

The state of California defines child custody as the rights and responsibilities between parents for taking care of their children. Child custody agreements can be created in various ways. A separating couple will have the chance to create a child custody agreement out of court, but if the couple cannot reach a mutual agreement that is in the best interests of the child, the court can intervene and make the decision on behalf of the family.

Custody can be divided in the following ways:

  • Legal custody - determines which parent can make important legal decisions on behalf of the child, including healthcare, education, spiritual affiliation, welfare, and other decisions
  • Physical custody - determines which parent the child will reside with
  • Joint custody - both parents can share the rights and responsibilities for the legal decisions for the child
  • Sole custody - only one parent will have the right and responsibility to make important decisions for the child

Remember, you and your former spouse's legal decisions from today forward could have a lasting impact on the development of your child. It is our primary mission to help your family through this time with as little legal exposure as possible.

Legal Custody

Legal custody gives a parent the right and responsibility to make major decisions concerning a child's welfare and upbringing. Choices regarding school, religious affiliation, and health care all fall under the parameters of legal custody.

Within legal custody, there are two options:

  • Joint Legal Custody: Both parents will share the same rights and responsibility to decision making regarding the way their child is raised. Parents can share legal custody without sharing physical custody.
  • Sole Legal Custody: Only one parent will have legal custody of a child, making all major decisions without having to run it by the other parent.

Joint legal custody arrangements are usually given preference unless one parent is judged unfit or incapable of making decisions, or if the two parents involved absolutely cannot work together amicably.

A parent with sole legal custody can make all major decisions concerning the child without approval from the other parent. If you believe your former partner is not suitable for legal custody or would like to obtain sole legal custody, you will need a strong legal team behind you.

Physical Custody

Physical custody decides where the child will live and for what percentage of the time. As with legal custody, it is subdivided into sole and joint subcategories.

California law dictates two kinds of physical custody, including:

  • Joint Physical Custody: In joint custody, the child trades off living with both parents. The living arrangements are placed in accordance with a schedule set up by the judge, though not necessarily a 50-50 split.
  • Sole Physical Custody: If a parent is granted sole physical custody, the child lives with him or her 100 percent of the time. The other parent will receive visitation time, but it takes place over much shorter periods of time.

The ruling regarding legal custody doesn't always result in the same decision in regards to physical custody. For instance, a parent might be granted joint physical, but sole legal custody.

Custodial vs. Non-Custodial Parent

In cases when one parent has sole physical custody or joint custody for more than 50 percent of the time, that parent is signified as the "custodial parent." These custody arrangements usually involve a court-approved visitation plan applying to the "non-custodial parent."

Bird's Nest Custody

Bird's Nest Custody is a specific type of joint physical custody. In this arrangement, the child remains in the primary residence and it is the parents who take turns moving in and out.

Want to Protect Your Parenting Rights? Call Us Today.

Whether you need to obtain a child custody order, are seeking primary custody, or are facing other important decisions regarding your role in your child's life, we are here to provide you with effective legal counsel. You will need to be informed of your rights, your child's rights, and your legal options.

Related Reading

Contact our child custody attorney at (714) 888-4830 immediately if you have any concerns. We would happily address any of your pressing anxieties during a free and confidential initial consultation.

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