Riverside, CA Corona Custody & Visitation Attorney
When the California court system makes decisions about child custody and visitation, the primary objective is to protect your child’s best interest. To determine what is best for the child, an array of factors will need to be taken into consideration. One of those factors is the health and wellbeing of the child, as well as ensuring that the child’s health isn’t compromised or put at risk.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the process of determining custody and visitation has experienced some significant changes. There are new restrictions in place that didn’t exist prior to the pandemic. As such, many parents in California have been wondering how they can maintain their visitation and custody rights in a way that’s safe and fully abides by the coronavirus restrictions.
A California parent looking to keep your parental rights protected while also following COVID-19 restrictions on custody and visitation, should get in contact with an experienced Riverside family law attorney. Your CA custody and visitation lawyer can help keep the health of you and your child protected without putting your parental rights in jeopardy. If you’re looking for a custody & visitation attorney in Riverside, California, reach out to Catherine Schwartz today.
How Has COVID-19 Affected CA Child Custody Orders?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, the governor of California has issued several key orders. The purpose of each of these orders has been to better protect the health of California residents, reducing the spread of COVID-19 across the state. Stay-at-home orders were just one part of these new restrictions.
However, even when stay-at-home orders are in place across California, child custody and visitation agreements aren’t to be disregarded. Parents shouldn’t be disregarding the terms established by these agreements, even when a stay-at-home order has been issued by the governor. Instead, parents need to continue complying with these orders—regardless of the current COVID-19 situation within the state.
Even still, COVID-19 has made it difficult for many California parents to continue abiding by child custody & visitation orders as they were agreed upon. During instances of court closure, this issue becomes even more severe, as parents are unable to obtain new orders that better fit health concerns and logistics related to the pandemic.
In instances of this nature, it’s a good idea for parents to communicate with each other to the best of their ability. That way, CA parents can reach an agreement on their own, even without the intervention of the state court system. Of course, when a new agreement is reached between parents, it’s crucial that a California child custody & visitation attorney is involved in the process. The assistance of a family law attorney is needed to securely enter into any new custody or visitation agreement, and that agreement should also be put into writing.
If you are a California parent who is concerned for the safety and wellbeing of their child due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you should be communicating openly with your child’s other parent. Discuss whether you believe current custody or visitation orders can be safely followed based on the current spread of COVID-19 in your area.
In addition, both parents should remain open with one another about whether someone within their household has displayed symptoms of COVID-19 or received a positive test result for the virus. Any known exposure to the virus by anyone in either household should also be communicated openly to make sure everyone stays informed, and the health of the child is protected. It is advisable for parents to discuss ways in which they can each communicate and stay in contact with the child during the changing COVID-19 conditions across California.
Protecting Parental and Custodial Rights During COVID-19
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that child custody & visitation orders are followed. Otherwise, a parent who breaks the custody or visitation agreement could face serious legal consequences—just as they would have before the start of the pandemic.
If one of the parents involved in the agreement refuses to let the other parent visit or have custody over the child unfairly and without adequate justification, the parent who has had their rights violated should keep a careful record of each violation they have faced. Then, the parent whose custodial rights have been violated can seek enforcement by the CA courts.
Similarly, if either parent believes that the current custody and visitation order isn’t protecting the health and wellbeing of their child, they should speak to the court about receiving a modification.
Do I Need a Child Custody & Visitation Lawyer During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
No matter the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents need to continue abiding by child custody and visitation orders. However, some parents might believe that these orders are no longer in their child’s best interest due to the conditions of the pandemic. Fortunately, these parents have the right to take action and protect the interests of their children.
Whether you are looking to modify or enforce a custody order during COVID-19, don’t forget to speak with a CA family law attorney at your earliest convenience. Your child custody lawyer can help you protect your rights as a parent, as well as keep your child safe from harm or illness.
How Are Child Custody & Visitation Orders Determined in CA?
Regardless of the current state of COVID-19, the way in which the CA court system determines child custody and visitation hasn’t changed. At the core of the issue, protecting the child’s wellbeing and interests is always going to be what custody or visitation orders are based around.
In the state of California, it is possible for either parent to maintain custody over a child, although it is also possible for custody to be shared between both parents. The final decision about any child custody or visitation agreement will be made by a judge to ensure that the child’s interests are being properly protected. If the parents are unable to come to a parenting plan on their own for a judge to approve, then the judge will determine the custody and visitation agreement on the parents’ behalf.
Typically, before a California judge is willing to make a final decision about child custody & visitation, the parents will need to receive mediation from Family Court Services.
What Types of Custody Orders Are There in California?
In California, there are two different kinds of custody orders: legal custody and physical custody. The parent who holds legal custody of the child will be able to make important decisions about the child’s life and care. These decisions could be related to the child’s education, welfare, or the health care that they receive. Alternatively, the parent who holds physical custody over the child will be who the child lives with.
Breaking down the types of child custody even further, there are two different forms of legal custody in CA. First, it’s possible for joint legal custody to be issued by the California court system. Joint custody means that both parents share the responsibility and right to make key decisions about the child’s education, health, and welfare.
In other instances, however, sole legal custody will be issued to one of the parents. This means that only one parent will have the responsibility and right to make any important decisions about their child’s care. The other parent will not be allowed input in these big decisions.
When a parent receives legal custody over their child, they will be allowed to make decisions about the children:
- Childcare or education
- Religious activities
- Mental health, counseling, or psychiatric care
- Doctor, orthodontist, dentist, or other healthcare professionals (with the exception of emergency medical care)
- Extracurricular activities, including sports
- Vacation and travel
In many instances, parents will share legal custody over a child. Although both parents will have the right to make significant decisions about their child, this doesn’t mean that the parents will need to agree on every decision. Both parents are permitted to make decisions on their own, as required. However, it is in the parents’ best interest to communicate with one another when it comes to making these decisions. This is the best way to avoid running into problems and returning to court to resolve the issue.
Like the previous type of custody, physical custody can be held by both parents (joint physical custody), although it can also be held by just one of the child’s parents (sole physical custody). Additionally, it is also possible for one parent to be given primary physical custody over the child.
In cases of joint physical custody, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the child will spend an equal amount of time living with each parent. Since it can be difficult to split the time perfectly in half, it is typical for a child to spend slightly more time living with one parent than with the other. The parent who the child spends more time with is known as the primary custodial parent.
Keep in mind that just because the parents have joint legal custody over their child doesn’t mean they will necessarily be given joint physical custody. In some cases, parents will have joint legal custody, but only one parent will be given physical custody over the child.
Both parents will have the right to make fundamental decisions about their child’s life and care, although the child will spend most (or all) of their time living with just one parent. Generally, if a parent doesn’t have physical custody over their child, they will be given visitation rights instead.
What Does the CA Court Consider Reaching a Child Custody Agreement?
We have established that the court aims to make a custody & visitation decision that’s in the best interest of the child. However, what variables will the CA family court need to consider before they can reach this decision?
When the court is determining what’s best for the child, they will take a closer look at the child’s:
- Health and medical conditions if any
- Existing emotional relationship with each parent
Further, the court will also need to consider:
- How able each parent is to care for the child
- The family’s history of substance abuse or violence if it exists
- The child’s ties to their home, community, or school
When the court is deciding upon custody and visitation, the gender of the parent isn’t a variable that’s taken into account. This means that custody or visitation won’t automatically be given to either the child’s mother or father. The age or sex of the child won’t change this fact.
If a parent was never married to the other parent, the court can’t use this to justify denying visitation or custody to them. The CA court also isn’t permitted to deny visitation or custody to a parent based on their lifestyle, physical disabilities, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.
Finally, if the court determines that either parent having custody over the child would be harmful to the child’s wellbeing, it’s possible for custody to be given to another party entirely. When this occurs, it is known as another party receiving “guardianship” over the child.
The Law Offices of Schwartz & Godbey | Top CA Corona Custody & Visitation Attorney
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of determining and enforcing child custody & visitation orders has gone through some significant changes. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that a parent’s rights or ability to remain in contact with their child should ever be compromised. To ensure that your child custody and visitation agreement is always abided by regardless of where California is in the COVID-19 pandemic, consider getting in contact with a CA family law attorney.
Catherine A. Schwartz is available to make sure your parental and custodial rights are never violated, even during COVID-19. If you’re interested in scheduling a consultation, simply reach out to our office through our online contact form today.