Child Custody

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Child Custody Attorneys

When the parties separate without starting court proceedings, there is often a visitation and custody schedule that evolves. That custody and visitation schedule is called the status quo. If a divorce is filed after the parties have separated and have been living with a certain custody and visitation arrangement, this arrangement will be considered for any temporary orders that are entered. Temporary orders are entered early on in a divorce case due to the length of time it takes to get divorced in California. The final orders in any case take at least 6 months or possibly more to obtain from the court.


In most cases when parties are getting divorced, child custody mediation will be ordered to help the parties work toward the long-term permanent orders. California courts differ by county, in terms of whether their mediators operate by confidential or recommending mediation. In confidential mediation counties, the sole purpose of mediation is to attempt to reach a full agreement on the child-related issues, such that the parties will not have to appear before a judge. The parties can also reach a partial agreement, resolving some issues together and leaving the rest for the judge.


In recommending mediation counties, the court will issue a temporary child custody order, based on the mediator’s recommendations as to any issues the parties cannot resolve. Judges give weight to mediators’ recommendations and mediators look closely at what the parties were doing before the divorce was filed and whether or not a “status quo” has been created. Parents have a right to a child custody trial if permanent orders can’t be reached through mediation or agreement. At times, temporary orders are incorporated into the permanent judgment of dissolution. Whether the child custody is contested from the start, a strategy in moving forward should be adopted. The highest of the consideration is what is best for the child. Some parents want to consider what is best for them, or their schedule and this will be weighed against what is best for the child in the long run. Parents should think of their children in terms of having a well rounded and healthy upbringing that includes both parents, and grandparents if possible.


California contemplates that child custody can be assigned in a number of ways:

  • A parent may have sole physical and sole legal custody
  • A parent may have sole physical and joint legal custody
  • The parents may have joint physical and joint legal custody
  • A parent may have joint physical custody and sole legal custody

At times, there are emergency issues that are present in a case. If health, safety and welfare issues are present, the court will enter emergency temporary orders, and sometimes the court will enter orders without going to a hearing, depending on what circumstances are jeopardizing the health, safety and welfare of the children.

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