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Custody and Visitation

Hopefully the parties can come to an agreement as to how to share custody of their most prized possessions: Their children. In the old days, it was common that the mother automatically got custody and the father had visitation every other weekend. Not so any more. The law is clear that, absent domestic violence issues or issues involving drugs or abuse, it is in the best interests of the children to have equal time with both parents.

Just because the parents might initially disagree as to custody and visitation doesn’t mean that the case will automatically go to trial.One of the steps along the way is the mediation process, whereby the parents are required to go to the family law courthouse in Orange for a meeting with a family law mediator to see if the mediator can help the parties come to an agreement.

If the parties come to an agreement, the mediator will put the agreement in writing and have it signed by the parties, and it can be turned into an order after submission to the court.

If the parties cannot come to an agreement, or if there are serious issues causing the disagreement, there are various ways to resolve the matter.

There are many issues that can affect whether the parties will have joint custody such as mental illness, physical/sexual abuse, and drug/alcohol abuse.

730 Evaluation

If one of the parties makes allegations about the other parent that there are serious problems that limits that parent’s ability to take care of the children, a 730 evaluation can be requested whereby the parties and their children see a psychiatrist who, after quite a few meetings, writes an evaluation for the court on which the court will base it’s decision as to which party will get custody and which party will have visitation.This can be quite costly, but also very beneficial.Rather than going to trial and putting on “he said/she said” evidence, the psychiatrist presents the issues, findings, and resolution to the court.

Minor’s Counsel

In some cases a party can request that minor’s counsel be appointed to represent the minor’s interests to the court.Minor’s counsel does not perform an evaluation as in the 730 evaluation, but minor’s counsel will talk to all parties, teachers, doctors, etc., and determine what would be in the best interests of the minor and make that recommendation to the court.

Special Master

A relatively new procedure whereby the court can appoint a psychiatrist to talk to the parties, discover any issues that the parties are dealing with, and help the parties to resolve those issues.Counseling, anger management classes, and parenting classes may also be added.The psychiatrist will make recommendations to the court which the court may or may not adopt.

All of the issues that a person may face during a divorce are not addressed here. If you have any specific questions pertaining to your divorce, please click here.