Orange County, California Visitations Lawyer
Figuring Out Child's Best Interest
For many divorcing couples, determining visitation can be one of the most challenging parts of the process. There is a lot on the line—this determines whether you’re allowed valuable time with your children from this point forward. If you believe that the other parent is unfit for visitation, this only complicates proceedings further.
Most important, never attempt to represent yourself in court if you’re working toward a visitation agreement. Instead, be sure to hire an experienced California visitations attorney. If you’re in need, then Lisa McCall is available to help.
What Does a Visitation Lawyer Do?A visitation lawyer represents you during divorce proceedings and works to ensure you receive the fairest possible visitation agreement. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may use evidence to prove to the court that your partner is unfit for visitation, or that supervised visitation is in your child’s best interest.
The visitation agreement you come to will determine how you share time with your children following a divorce or separation.
What Is Reasonable Visitation in California?In some cases, a judge might issue a reasonable visitation order rather than providing a set schedule. This is a reasonably open-ended agreement, where the judge directs that each parent spend a “reasonable” amount of time with the child.
However, it is up to the parents to determine what reasonable time actually entails. And although it is open-ended, the amount of detail provided within a reasonable visitation order can vary. Some orders are simple, while others are highly detailed.
One of the benefits of this type of agreement is flexibility. For instance, if you or your partner has an inconsistent work schedule or if your kids are often busy with different activities, reasonable visitation might be suitable for you. However, the nature of this agreement also necessitates that both parents cooperate with one another for the system to work.
How Is Visitation Determined in California?To determine visitation, the court must first decide what is in the child’s best interest. This is what your visitation agreement will hinge on, as well as your custody agreement. The agreement will be designed to protect your child’s well-being and quality of life.
Before they can create a visitation agreement, however, the judge will examine:
- The child’s age
- The child’s current health status
- Any emotional ties between either parent and the child
- How capable either parent is of caring for the child
- Whether either parent has a history of violence or substance abuse
- Any ties the child has to their home, school, or community
Regardless of the age or sex of your children, visitation rights will never automatically be granted to the mother or father, based upon a parent’s gender. If you were never married to the child’s other parent, the court still does not have the right to deny you visitation. The court also does not have the right to assign visitation based upon variables such as:
- Whether either parent has a physical disability
- Lifestyle differences between parents
- The religious beliefs of either parent
- The sexual orientation of either parent
Keep in mind that child visitation orders are treated separately from child support orders. This could come into play later, for example, if the other parent suddenly stops paying support, as per the agreement. If this occurs, however, you do not have the right to deny them visitation.
What Are the Types of Visitation Agreements in California?To determine how you’ll be spending time with your children, the court considers four possible types of visitation. If a parent has been given less than half the child’s time, they may be granted visitation. There is no standard or typical visitation agreement—ultimately, it is dependent upon the interests of the child, the circumstances of the parents, and several additional factors.
The four main types of visitation in California are:
- Visitation According to a Schedule
It’s common that the court, with the aid of the parents, will create a set visitation schedule. Having a predetermined schedule can reduce the chances of confusion (or even contention) later down the line. The schedule will provide specific times and dates, indicating when the child will be with each parent. In addition, it’s common for visitation schedules to account for holidays and other notable dates, such as vacations.
- Reasonable Visitation
Reasonable visitation is an open-ended type of visitation agreement. Unlike visitation according to a schedule, reasonable visitation orders do not indicate any specific time or dates regarding the visitation plans. Instead, these orders instruct that the child spend a reasonable amount of time with each parent, as determined by the parents themselves. While this form of visitation agreement can help some ex-spouses cooperate with one another (possibly out of necessity), it can also be a problematic agreement to adhere to if there is already hostility between the parties.
However, if you are looking for a flexible visitation plan and are confident that you can communicate with your ex-spouse, then reasonable visitation could be a viable option.
- Supervised Visitation
Generally, supervised visitation will be used when there is a risk to the child’s well-being or safety, should they be left alone with one of their parents. Instead, supervised visitation stipulates that the other parent must be present at the time of visitation—or that a professional agency or other trusted adult be present, as determined by the court.
Supervised visitation is sometimes also used when the child and the parent are still becoming familiar with each other. For instance, maybe the child hasn’t seen their parent in a long time; supervised visitation gives them a chance to bond and reintroduce themselves in a way that’s not as stressful.
- No Visitation
In extreme cases, the court may determine that it isn’t safe for one or both parents to spend time with the child, even with supervision. “No visitation” can be used in cases where the child is at risk of physical harm from a parent, although it can also be used when there is a risk of emotional harm. If the court determines that it is in the child’s best interest to have no contact with one or both parents, they won’t be owed visitation rights.
How Do You Prove a Father Is Unfit for Visitation in CA?If you are worried that the other parent is a risk to your child’s emotional or physical well-being, you will need to prove this to the court. Otherwise, this unfit parent could be granted visitation rights that they should not have received for the sake of the child.
In the state of California, the term “unfit parent” describes an individual who, through their behavior, is unable to provide their child with the proper care, support, and guidance. This can refer to the parent’s own actions, or it can refer to the environment in which they reside. For example, if the home environment features neglect, abuse, or substance abuse, the parent might be deemed unfit.
First, ensure that an investigation is done on the unfit parent to get a direct look into their home environment and ability to parent.
It is rare in California that judges entirely cut off contact between a parent and their child, however. If you want to accomplish this, you will need an abundance of evidence—evidence that your visitation attorney can help collect. Claims and accusations will not be enough to have a parent considered unfit by the court.
For a parent to be considered unfit, the other parent must provide proof that any of the following exist:
- Domestic violence
- Substance abuse
- Mental illness
However, keep in mind that not all the above points will lead to a parent being considered unfit on their own. For instance, not all parents with a mental illness will be deemed unfit. The most crucial variable is still protecting the child’s best interest. If a parent’s mental illness makes them unable to care for their child, then that is why they would be considered unfit.
How Much Does a Child Visitation Lawyer Cost?Whether you’re hiring a child visitation or custody attorney, the price will vary, depending on the lawyer’s expertise, the complexity of your case, and other factors. Child visitation attorneys will charge an hourly or a flat-rate fee. Flat rate fees can vary quite substantially, ranging anywhere from around $3,000 to $20,000, in most cases.
Hourly rates are more likely to be used during lengthier or more complex cases.