Child custody law explained

Child custody is a legal registration of the relationship in which an adult holds account for the wellbeing of a minor (typically under the age of 18 years) or an adult with mental or physical disabilities. Custody is most often formalized when child is deprived of the parents; when parents leave them to their own devices; when they do not receive normal care; when they become a victim of ill-treatment or abuse from parents.

What are the responsibilities of a foster parent?

A foster parent should monitor the general welfare of the child, satisfy their personal needs – such as education, health care, normal living conditions. In some cases, the foster parent may also be responsible for the child’s financial allocations, although often it will be done by another person, a court-appointed executor.

What is the difference between child custody and adoption?

Adoption changes the relationship between adults and child. Adult adopters officially become adoptive parents. As for birth parents, they lose their parental rights and obligations to the child, including financial responsibility to them. In this regard, for example, if a biological parent dies without leaving a will, the adoptee has no right to inheritance. Although child custody also establishes a legal relationship between a child and an adult, it is, nevertheless, does not interrupt the previous legal relationship between the child and parents. For example, the biological parent is still obliged to provide financial support for the child, and if a parent dies without a will, the child retains the right to inheritance.

Child custody does not interrupt the previous legal relationship between the child and parents.

Child custody does not interrupt the previous legal relationship between the child and parents.

Can a person, whom the child’s biological parents are against, be appointed as a foster parent?

It depends on the judge’s decision. It all starts with the filing of suit to the court by the alleged foster parent. Then the representative of the court will hold a conversation with him, with the child and parents and present the recommendations to the judge. Child’s custody is usually not assigned, if biological parents do not consent or if the judge deems that the legal custody will affect the child and parents adversely. At the same time, a foster parent will possess perfect child custody rights if the parents gave up the child.

Is custody should be formalized, if the child is living with someone who is not his parent?

If the child lives with you for a few weeks or months, it is not necessary to establish custody. But if you anticipate that you will have to look after the child for a long period, for example, a few years, then you should think about custody. Without this, it may be difficult to send a child to school, provide them with medical care or get for them special benefits. In addition, you will have no further rights to care for the child if the parents are suddenly will claim their parental right, even if they are not able to take proper care of the child.

In what cases child’s custody is not required?

Let us assume that the child is living with you permanently. However, you can have a good reason not to register custody. For example, parents can be against. In addition, you can be not glad with the prospect of the consideration of your candidacy in court. Finally, the custody may in some circumstances (for example, when the child’s mother lives with another husband) lead to serious disputes, i.e. where the child should belong. In this regard, many adults raising children try to avoid the registration of custody through the courts.

When is the deadline for the  child custody?

In most cases the deadline is the time when the child comes of legal age. But the judge can determine that child custody is no longer necessary. Rare cases are when the custody was registered solely for the distribution of the child’s finances and there are no funds for the child’s support anymore. The deadline also comes when when the child dies. It should be borne in mind that, even if the custory remains in effect, the foster parent has the right to abandon the role by legal means. In this case, the court will appoint a new foster parent.

Who supports the child financially during the period of custody?

The biological parents of the child (except in the case when the court will deprive them of their parental rights, which is unlikely) must be responsible for it. But in fact, it often turns out that the material welfare of the child comes upon the foster parents. For example, it is them who in some cases seek for social assistance and other benefits on behalf of the child. By the way, all funds received for the child should be spent only for the child’s needs. The more the amount of these funds, the greater the possibility that the judge will require to present a periodic report on their spending.

How to find a child support lawyer

Child support is a payment made by a non-custodial parent to provide child with a necessary sum of money. The parent is compelled to pay the child maintenance by the trial after the marriage is over. The one who pays the child support is called an obligor. The one who gets it – an obligee, usually this role belongs to a custodial parent.

Child support is payed from a non-custodial parent to a custodial one

Child support is payed from a non-custodial parent to a custodial one

What is required from a lawyer?
A family lawyer who deals with the child support issues has to:

  • • Possess a thorough knowledge of civil litigation. Your attorney is supposed to know all the aspects connected with family law, i.g. child support issues;
    • Prepare legal pleadings and records. Your lawyer protects your interests on the court, so he is supposed to represent them;
    • Calculate an amount of money. Different states do not have the same guidelines for a sum of the child support payments;

What is taken into account?
The calculations made for the payment are made according to:

  • • An income of an obligor;
    • An obligee’s assets ;
    • Expenses for medical care;
    • Insurance;
    • Child’s age;
    • Everyday expenses;

What are you required to tell a lawyer?

  • • Discuss with a child support attorney what arrangements you have with your ex-spouse. In case of non-payment the child maintenance payments, you will be supposed to represent these arrangements on the court;
    • Show your personal financial information. It will be used during the calculation of the amount of child support;
    • Bring all the divorce and child custody documents;
    • Feel free to ask the questions you are concerned about.


Where to seek an attorney?
• Use special web sites intended to help you find a lawyer. Usually these sites upload all the necessary information related to the lawyer’s professional skills and qualities.
• Turn to your local association bar. These organizations provide with the legal help and will consult you through the phone.
How to understand that the lawyer is right for you
• Do not fall for an advertisement. No matter how well-made it is, such qualities as professionalism, education and a good knowledge must be on the top of the list of your demands.
• Objectiveness and analysis. The lawyer’s task is to evaluate your case from different sides. The lawyer is not supposed to agree with on every matter, but he should direct you by explaining what is right to do.
• Consult the reviews on your lawyer. The one who is praised for his professionalism and won cases is more likely to win yours than the one who was accused of unprofessionalism.

Divorce laws in California: Q&A

How much time does the divorce process take?

At least 6 months should pass either since the date when respondent received the summons and the petition for the dissolution of marriage, or since the date when the respondent made appearance.

Can I get a divorce within a period less than 6 months?

If both spouses agree to the divorce terms before the end of waiting period, they can draw up a divorce agreement and obtain a bill of divorce, but they will not be identified as divorced until the 6-month period expires. The parties will have the bill of divorce in advance, where the divorce date will be attached to the future.

What should I do after receiving a statement of claim for divorce?

If you received a statement of claim for divorce, your response should be submitted within 30 days. The response is a paper that shows that you are interested in the divorce proceedings, i.e. you want to be apprised of all the dates when you have to be present in court, that you will participate in the lawsuit by court appearance to expedite the judicial decision.

What if I leave the response to the claim for divorce unsubmitted?

If the response is not exhibited in court, the decision will be issued without your participation, i.e. according to the statement of the adverse party. Therefore, if the case involves property or children, it is reasonable to send a response.

Divorce and separation: what is the difference?

The first difference is that the adjudication of the separation does not break off the marital status (i.e. none of the parties will not be allowed to get married again until the marriage is ended with divorce, or death of a spouse.) Usually people get a separation agreement, when they cannot get a divorce for religious or personal reasons. Also, there is no “waiting period” in separation lawsuit. The decision of separation can be obtained very quickly, though if one of the spouses does not want to get separation, the decision of separation is impossible obtain.)

Separation does not break off the marital status.

Separation does not break off the marital status.

We gоt married outside of California. Can I get a divorce in CA?

Yes, you can. But you should take into consideration one nuance: to have the right get a divorce, one of the spouses must have been living for 6 months in CA and for at least 3 months in the county where the claim was initiated. If you have just moved to this state and you would like get a quick divorce, talk to California lawyers, as there are some legitimate “back-channels”.

An order to show cause, what is it?

Order to show cause (OSC) is an request for a court hearing. To make such an request you should provide certain papers. In the submitted papers, you ask for a specific temporary solution concerning the particular issue. This decision will be valid until the next or final decision of the court. Usually such decisions are requested when children involved and there are such issues as child’s place of residence, child support, visiting rights. The judge will decide if your request should be complied.

Child custody

The types of custody

Child custody is a form of a guardianship of a child under 18 years old. The custody becomes the most important matter during the divorce trials if the couple has children. The custody is divided into physical or legal. Physical custody means providing the child with everything necessary for him or her, for example the housing, financial security, education, fulfilling the child’s needs. Legal custody is about the right of a parent to make decisions concerning the child, such as medical treatment, religion and insurance. When one parent receives a primary custody, his or her ex-spouse usually gets visitation rights. In some cases the parent may be forbidden to visit a child.

The primary custodians

The right of being a privileged custodian was traditionally given to a mother. However today the views on this subject have changed and the primary custody can be given a father, if the child’s mother is not able to provide a child with proper conditions.

Seeking a lawyer

Turning for help to the custody attorney during the divorce is necessary, as this is a specialist who will assist you in the issues of the custody. The specialists of such kind should have a developed understanding of the family law and know how to adjust to the different and unexpected situations.

Before a discussion of your case with a lawyer you have to decide what you expect from your ex-spouse. The family law has some certain flexibility and there are questions that must be discussed out of the trial. If you both find a way to come to conclusion, you will need to represent your resolution to the custody lawyer, so that your attorney can know what you expect him to do. Discuss with the lawyer all the details of your divorce. Do not forget to inform him about the things that might be used as evidence against you on trial.

What your lawyer might need

Bring with you the documentation of assets and birthrights, all of them might be in handy for giving child custody advice. In order to gain a particular advantage on court, you may try using evidence of your ex-spouse’s wrongdoings and/ or the negligence. Remember that the attorney’s task is to facilitate the trials as much as possible, so do not hesitate to as him or her questions if something stays unclear for you.

Where to find a lawyer

In case there is someone among your family or friends to lend you a helping hand in this issue, it is a good chance. Unless you have any one to recommend a legal aid divorce lawyer, you can keep searching on your own. It is a good idea to start with a Sate BAR where you will find all the necessary information concerning the lawyers and the cases. Using Google might be useful as many respectful family law firms upload information about their lawyers including their fees, experience and education.

There are some notes you should take into account while choosing an attorney. They include education, experience and the level of professionalism. Education goes without saying, as attorneys are obliged to have a law license. Experience plays a great role, especially the experience in the cases similar to yours.