Custody, Visitation & Parentage

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Child Custody & Visitation

Legal issues involving children and custody rights are not only emotionally draining but can get pretty complicated as well that requires the help of a legal attorney. Filing for child custody and visitation rights can be done by married or unmarried parents. Married parents will need to file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage/legal separation or nullity action and unmarried parents need to file an action to establish the parental relationship.

There are two kinds of child custody: legal and physical. Legal requires the parent make important decisions for your child like healthcare, education, welfare, etc and physical custody just means you live with your child. Keep in mind that legal custody can be joint, where both parents are involved or it can be sole. And even though both parents have the right to make decisions, they do not have to agree on every decision and either parent can make a decision alone. But it’s best, in order to avoid having problems and ending back up in court, that both parents communicate with each other and cooperate in making decisions together. Physical custody as well can be joint or sole.

Visitation is the plan for how the parents will share time with the children and are varied depending on the best interests of the children, the situation of the parents and other factors but in general there could be visitation according to a schedule, reasonable visitation, supervised visitation and no visitation at all. Reasonable visitation order does not necessarily have details as to when children will be with each parent. It’s more of an open-ended relationship and allows the parents to work it out between them.

Supervised visitation is used when the child’s safety could be at question and it requires that the parent is supervised by another adult or professional agency. Because the judge has to give custody according to what is in the “best interest of the child”, the court will consider factors such as: the age, health, emotional ties between the parents and the child, the ability of the parents to care for the child, any history of family violence or substance abuse and the child’s ties to school, home or community.

If you feel that you may have a potential case pertaining to Child Custody & Visitation please call (805) 879-7523 or click here to email us and have an attorney contact you about your case.


This action is filed by an unmarried mother or by an unmarried father who have minor children together. Through this action, the Court will determine paternity (or non-paternity if the father is found not to be the biological father of the minor children), and make custody and visitation as well as child support orders.

Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the other party, Respondent, must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request the entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the paternity proceeding without the participation of the Respondent.

If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court’s signature.

If you feel that you may have a potential case pertaining to family law please call (805) 879-7523 or click here to email us and have an attorney contact you about your case.