Orange County Child Custody Attorneys

Orange County Child Custody Lawyers

If you are going through a child custody battle in Orange County, contact the attorneys at Irwin & Irwin for a consultation about your case at (714) 222-3992.

Child custody is the divorce term that reflects your parental rights, which makes it a primary term that requires your utmost attention. Child custody cases not only arise in the face of divorce but are also common when parents who were never married break up, in relation to paternity cases, and when modifications are needed. When Orange County courts determine child custody cases, the involved children’s best interests are always their guide. If you’re facing a child custody case, having professional legal counsel in your corner is paramount, and an experienced Orange County Child Custody Attorney can help.

What Are the Forms of Child Custody?

Child custody can take many forms and has many applications, which makes it important to break the matter down further. 

Legal vs. Physical Custody

California addresses child custody in terms of both legal custody, which has to do with making primary parenting decisions, and physical custody, which has to do with visitation – or what California calls parenting time.

Legal Custody

As parents, there is a range of important decisions we are required to make on behalf of our children’s upbringings, and legal custody determines how divorced parents address this matter. The kinds of decisions involved include issues like the following:
  • where your children make their primary home
  • where your children attend school or daycare
  • the medical care your children receive
  • the extracurricular activities and travel that your children participate in
  • the religious education your children receive
Legal custody can be sole or joint, but there are additional options within these classifications. Consider the following:
  • The parents can share joint legal custody, but one parent retains the authority to break a tie if the parents’ good faith efforts to reach an agreement fail.
  • The parents can share joint legal custody by dividing the decision-making responsibility between them according to the category of decision that needs to be made.
The kinds of decisions that don’t reach the level of major parenting decisions, such as those that arise on a daily basis, must be fielded by the parent who is with the children at the time, and if an emergency arises, any decisions that need to be made must be handled by the parent who is most readily available.

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines the parenting time schedule, and while physical custody can be sole or joint, it is extremely rare for a parent to be denied all visitation. California courts take the view that it is universally in the best interests of children to forge deep relationships with both parents, and unless there is a significant reason for ruling otherwise, both parents are generally awarded some form of parenting time.
While parenting time schedules can vary considerably, and the options are nearly limitless, all such schedules fall into one of two basic categories, including:
  • One parent becomes the primary custodial parent with whom the children live more than half the time.
  • The parents divide their time with the children more or less evenly.

Joint vs. Sole Custody

California courts will sometimes assign sole legal custody and joint physical custody, meaning one parent may have the authority to make all the major decisions in relation to the children’s upbringing while both parents divide their time with the kids evenly. In contrast, both parents may share the responsibility of making those big-picture parenting decisions, but one of them can retain sole physical custody – while the other has limited visitation as assigned by the court.
In other words, there is no cookie-cutter approach to child custody in California, and having an experienced Orange County child custody attorney on your side is always the best path forward.

How Can I Avoid Going to Court Over Child Custody?

Except in very rare situations, both parents want what’s best for their children. If you and your divorcing spouse can tap into this truth, it can help you keep your child custody case out of court. Doing so involves hammering out a parenting plan between yourselves that addresses both legal and physical custody and lays out how you will divide these important responsibilities between you. 

Guiding Factors

The factors that the court turns to when it creates parenting plans – and that you should turn to in your efforts to create a viable plan outside of court – include all the following:
  • the matter of meeting the children’s basic needs, including those related to nutrition, medical care, sleeping schedules, guidance, protection, comfort, and love
  • each child’s unique social, emotional, healthcare, and educational needs, including any special needs that require special attention
  • the matter of providing your children with consistency, including a consistent schedule that fosters a stronger sense of security and routine
  • the matter of affording both parents a significant amount of time with the children
  • the matter of taking the children’s ages, abilities, unique personalities, and levels of experience into consideration
  • the support system that’s available to each parent
  • each parent’s overall parenting abilities
  • the strength of the relationship between each parent and each child
  • the matter of safeguarding the health, safety, and overall well-being of the children
  • the degree to which each parent is invested in communicating and cooperating with the other

Included Terms

The terms the court will expect you to cover in the parenting plan that you negotiate between yourselves include all the following:
  • the schedules for each parent’s physical custody of the children, including overnight visits
  • those decisions that require both parents’ input
  • how birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day will be handled
  • how school schedules, holidays, and vacations will be handled
  • how extracurricular activities and travel will be handled
  • the matter of childcare
  • the matter of healthcare, including how doctor’s visits, medical records, and vaccinations will be handled
  • the kind of discipline that will be employed
  • the matter of house rules, such as those related to chores and curfews
  • how the matter of religious practices will be addressed
  • the matter of your children’s screentime, smartphone access, and internet usage
  • how transportation concerns will be resolved, including those related to drop-off locations, authorized drivers, and car-seat requirements
  • expectations related to your children’s class schedules, homework, and grades
  • any rules or stipulations regarding the children meeting a parent’s new partner
It’s a lot to consider, but your practiced child custody attorney has the legal skill and insight to help you negotiate child custody terms that support your parental rights and honor your children’s best interests.

How Do You Win in a Custody Battle?

To begin, it’s important to point out that there is no winning a custody battle. In the end, it comes down to the best interests of your children, and keeping your kids away from their other parent or seriously limiting the amount of time they spend with their other parent is unlikely to do them any favors. It is, however, important to protect your rights as a parent and to skillfully advocate for a parenting time schedule that affords you as much time with your children as possible. Toward this end, there are several important steps you can take.

Put Your Children First

As a parent, you spend your days putting your children first in all things, but the stress and emotional upheaval wrought by divorce can leave you in defense mode –  ready to fight for as much parenting time as possible. If you find yourself in this position, don’t panic, but it is time to consider your children’s best interests carefully. For example, prioritizing obtaining a primary custodial role while your ex receives a generous parenting plan might be a good option.

When it comes to child custody, it’s important to set your priorities, which can afford you considerable leverage when it comes to negotiating child custody terms. If – as mentioned above – you are seeking the primary parental role, it can afford you more expansiveness in relation to your ex’s parenting time requests. Your children love both of you and want to spend time with both of you, and this basic truth should guide your child custody decisions.

Heading into a contentious child custody battle is not only more costly and more time-consuming but also takes a serious toll on everyone involved, including your children. When it comes to winning your child custody battle, reframe the issue in terms of your children’s best interests and let it be your guide.

Keep Your Relationship with Your Children Positive

Child custody cases have a way of becoming all-consuming, but you shouldn’t let yours interfere with your relationship with your kids. You’re under a lot of stress, and there’s no way to hide this fact. In truth, attempting to do so can leave your children questioning their sense of reality. 

It’s important, however, to find a way to strike a balance that lets your children know you’re there for them in exactly the same way you’ve always been while also acknowledging that you’re going through a difficult time that is taking its toll on you. By regularly carving time out to put your child custody concerns aside while you bond with your children over movie night – or anything else – you help to soothe their concerns. Your efforts will also speak to the court, which takes factors like these into careful consideration. 

Work with a Seasoned Child Custody Attorney from the Beginning

When it comes to your parental rights, your child custody arrangements are the be-all and end-all, and the stakes are far too high not to have capable legal counsel behind you. Your attorney has successfully guided many challenging cases like yours toward favorable resolutions, and they’re well prepared to do the same for you.

Your attorney’s task includes ably handling all the following:
  • compiling all the relevant evidence into your strongest case
  • knowledgeably advocating for fair child custody terms that reflect your commitment to providing your children with the love and care they need
  • keeping the lines of communication open – to the degree possible – between you and your divorcing spouse if there is a chance of resolving your child custody terms through direct negotiations
  • keeping you apprised of your rights, ensuring that you understand the legal process, helping you make the right decisions for you and your children throughout, and helping you successfully navigate the often-challenging path forward

Many mothers believe they have an edge when it comes to child custody, and many fathers believe they are at a distinct disadvantage. However, California courts consider every child custody case within the context of the unique circumstances involved, meaning that parents are considered in terms of how well-suited they are to providing and caring for their children – not in terms of whether they are the mother or the father. Your accomplished Orange County child custody attorney will ensure that the court sees you for the dedicated, competent, loving, devoted, and focused parent you are, which can prove invaluable when it comes to your child custody arrangements.  

Do Your Best to Stop Things from Becoming Contentious

Yes, you need legal guidance on your side from the outset, but consciously steering your case away from ugliness can do you, your soon-to-be ex, and your children a world of good. Once things start moving in that direction, it can be very difficult to reign the drama in, which can lead to a devastating snowball effect. 

Dirty tricks and ugly infighting are not going to help you protect your parental rights, and they can backfire spectacularly. The most important reason to put the kibosh on open hostilities, however, is because it’s the right thing to do for your children, who are especially vulnerable during this difficult time.

The less ferocious your negotiations, the better the possibility there is that you can keep your case out of court, which is generally the goal. Even if your case does go to trial, however, your authentic efforts to keep the hijinks and fighting down to a dull roar are unlikely to go unnoticed by the court. One of the best-interest factors that California courts turn to when they make child custody rulings is each parent’s commitment to fostering the other parent’s ongoing relationship with the children, so let it be your guide. 

Identify Anything that May Work Against You Ahead of Time

When it comes to child custody cases, the gloves have a tendency to come off, and your divorcing spouse may take it upon themself to dredge up whatever they can to make you look like a bad parent. Whatever the concern may be, now is the time to do damage control, and your insightful child custody attorney has the legal fortitude to help you accomplish it. 

Now is also the time to ensure that you don’t let your emotions run away with you – prompting you to do something that harms your child custody case in the process. Towards this end, keep all the following in mind:
  • Don’t make statements or comments to other people that you wouldn’t want the judge handling your case to hear – because they might come back to haunt you.
  • Listen to your attorney and carefully heed their warnings. Your child custody attorney knows the ins and outs of these complex cases, and trusting yours to provide you with sound guidance can help immensely.
  • Don’t let your children’s other parent goad you into saying something that you’ll regret later. Taking the high road is not only good for you emotionally but can also bolster your child custody case. 

When It Comes to Social Media, Proceed with Caution

There’s no denying that the role social media plays in our lives only continues to grow, and many of us turn to these various platforms to vent our frustrations and let everyone know what we’re going through. If you are facing a child custody case, however, turning to social media for either of these purposes is a terrible idea. Consider all the following:

  • You have no expectation of privacy when you post on social media, which means anything can be memorialized by anyone. If it circles back, it could show up in your child custody case.
  • Deleting something you’re already posted is unlikely to help and might draw more attention to the post. Far too many people are in the habit of grabbing screenshots to make deleting a post a viable option. 
  • What you post on social media is open to creative interpretation, and you can expect readers not to hold back when it comes to interpreting yours in the middle of your child custody case.

It’s far too easy to innocently post something that ends up harming your case, which makes giving social media a hard pass the best policy until after your child custody case is resolved. It’s also, however, a good idea not to post about your case after the fact due to the possibility of an appeal or a modification down the road. Considering the topic off limits is a wise policy. 

What to Expect from a Child Custody Attorney

Child custody cases are among the most stressful and emotionally wrought civil cases, but working with a skilled Orange County child custody attorney can make all the difference. Your attorney recognizes the gravity of your situation and the difficulties you’re experiencing and has a deep understanding of what you’re going through. Your attorney also, however, has an imposing track record of successfully guiding cases like yours toward advantageous conclusions that protect their valued clients’ parental rights – and is there for you to.

In terms of what to expect from your attorney, keep all the following in mind:

  • Your attorney will carefully listen to your concerns and will help you strategize a path forward that is guided by your child custody priorities.
  • Your attorney will manage the legal intricacies of your case, ensuring that you are well-prepared for each step in the process. 
  • Your attorney will be well prepared to take your case to court if it comes to that. While resolving child custody concerns out of court is generally preferable, it’s not always possible, and your focused attorney will ensure that you’re not blindsided by a hearing. 

Reach Out to an Experienced Orange County Child Custody Attorney Today

Having a trusted child custody attorney in your corner from the start can make a considerable difference in the outcome of your case. Your parental rights are on the line, which makes having a tight case that highlights your commitment to your children’s best interests and to whatever it takes to support those best interests critical. Don’t leave your case to chance. Reach out to a formidable Orange County child custody attorney today.  


What makes a father unfit for custody in California?

The factors that make a father unfit for custody in California are the same as those that make a mother unfit and include the following:
  • a history of physical abuse, domestic abuse, child abuse, substance abuse, or incarceration
  • a mental illness that threatens the welfare of the children
  • an inability to make appropriate decisions on behalf of the children
  • an inability to understand and respond to the children’s needs
  • a lack of involvement in their children’s past
  • a lack of cooperation in relation to co-parenting

What can be used against you in a child custody battle in California?

Your ex can attempt to use just about anything against you in a child custody battle, including things as minor as traffic tickets, which makes maintaining a clean criminal record imperative. 

Can cheating be used in a child custody battle?

Adultery generally plays no role in California child custody cases. Only if the affair put the children in harm’s way in some capacity – whether emotionally or physically – will the court take the matter into consideration.