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18 Apr. 2013

What You Need to Know About Custody of Your Children, Part II

Posted By The Buncher Law Corporation

Last post, we established that when considering custody of your children, there are two important concepts to understand: Legal Custody and Physical Custody.

When the parties come to an agreement on custody, the agreement may be submitted to the court. If the court approves the agreement, the parenting schedule becomes a binding court order. The agreement can be modified by either party if there has been a substantial change of circumstance, for instance if a parent moves or a child changes schools. It is not uncommon for parties to make alterations to the custody schedule after their case concludes, as facts and circumstances always change. These agreements or adjustments to the schedule should always be memorialized in the form of a written agreement and submitted to the court.

If parties to a dissolution action cannot agree as to custody, the analysis becomes more difficult. The court generally looks for input from a third party before it will render a decision as to custody. Mediation in contested custody cases is always required in Orange County, and is offered as a free service to litigants. If mediation fails, the court can appoint an evaluator to meet with members of the family and render an opinion as to custody. This can be a very costly and time-consuming process, but the approved evaluators in the County do a spectacular job. The court has a list of approved evaluators available on its website.

Though not every case can be resolved short of trial, settlement on custody issues is quite common. No one generally likes the idea of a court making a decision as to family structure and parenting time, but the court will certainly make a decision when pressed. The court's focus is always on the best interests of the children, and in most cases, that focus is shared by the parents.

Categories: Child Custody
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