Over 15 years of Experience

Custody / Visitation

Getting Started: California court’s most important goal is promoting the relationship between parent and their child whenever possible. Visitation and custodial time, even when supervised, with each parent is typically in the best interest of the child. There are two types of custody – legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the decision making aspects of parenting like where your child goes to school and church to which extracurricular activities they participate. Physical custody refers to the child’s living arrangements. Most parents are able to share legal custody with one parent having primary physical custody. Visitation is usually given to the parent not having primary physical custody. The courts schedule a mediation appointment for parents to work out a parenting plan/custody schedule that is in the best interest of the child and promotes a healthy relationship with both parents. Mediation can be avoided where both parents jointly come to come to an agreement. In order for the court to address custody and visitation, you must have an open case whether it be a petition to establish parental relationship (for non-married couples), a petition for divorce, or other petition. Contact our office today for your telephone case analysis.

Modification: Sometimes it is necessary to modify (change) the current court orders to better care for your child. Perhaps the other parent is frequently tardy dropping off your child or your work schedule has changed making it difficult to follow the orders. When circumstances change, you will need to request that the court change the orders based upon these changes. It is also necessary to inform the court of why it is in your child’s best interest to change the current orders. Alternatively, you may believe that the current orders are in your child’s best interest and that no change is needed. If the other parent requests a change with the court that you believe is unwarranted, you will need to file a response stating why a change is unnecessary. Not responding in time can result in your position not being considered by the court or a delay in the proceedings. Failure to respond could be viewed as consenting to the other parent’s request. When a modification is requested, the court will schedule the parties for mediation in the hopes that they will be able to come to a resolution. In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the mediation department will then submit a written report to the court for review with the mediator’s recommendations and/or the agreement of the parties. However, as with many family law issues, a modification of custody and visitation can be agreed to between the parents out of court. The new agreement would be submitted to the court in a written stipulation and then signed by the judge and made into a court order. The court retains jurisdiction (authority) to make orders until the child turns 18 years old. Even with permanent orders, if there is a change of circumstances you can request a change in the orders.

Parenting Agreements: Many parents work together for the benefit of their children even when they are no longer in a relationship. When this happens, these parents can prepare parenting agreements outlining custody, visitation, and their expectations of each other in regards to their children. This agreement is then filed with the court and becomes the current orders for the parents to follow. Meeting with an attorney to discuss your options and assist you in negotiating a parenting plan will ensure that you address all important concerns. Contact the Law Office of Gary S. Austin today to schedule your appointment.

Finally, child support is an area that directly affects a child’s best interests. We help our clients to understand California child support guidelines that look at the time that a child spends with each parent and each parent’s income or earning capacity as well as the special circumstances permitting judges to deviate from these guidelines. The Law Offices of Gary S. Austin will fight to ensure that your child receives all they deserve in the child support area.


1. Do we have to go to court to make custody orders? a. You do not. You can come to your own agreement in writing and submit it to the court for review and signing. Once the Judge signs it, it becomes an order of the court. 2. What if my ex has abandoned us and doesn’t have contact with me or our child – do we still have to share legal custody? a. You can request that the court order you sole legal custody and at your hearing you will be required to provide evidence as to why you should have sole custody. Based on your evidence and arguments you may get sole legal custody.

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