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2015: Child Custody and Visitation: How Do Judges in San Diego Superior Court Decide Where Your Child or Children Live and Who They Live With in Your Divorce, Paternity or Legal Separation?

Best Interests of Children or Child and No Distinction Between Whether Parents Are Married [Legal Separation or Divorce] or Unmarried [Paternity] in San Diego Superior Court

All have their own opinion about what is in the best interests of their child. This is a very subjective standard and, even in San Diego Superior Court, there is a lot of discretion by the Judges for what are the best interests. This is, of course, very artificial since the Judge will never have met you or the other parent or your children. To help the Judges with this most important decision, California has instituted mandatory mediation [in most cases] before the Judge will make an order in a custody and visitation case and this is discussed in more detail below. Best interests, under San Diego Family Law, is contained in many Codes. For the purposes of this article, three selected issues will be discussed: stability; bonding and frequent and continuing contact. There are many others, including health, welfare, education, safety which can encompass child abuse, child neglect and child molest. Assuming there are no issues with safety or health or education or welfare, then the Court will look to bonding, stability and frequent and continuing contact. Bonding with both parents is essential for a child’s best interests. Stability is also critical for the best interests of a child. Frequent and continuing contact with both parents is also a major consideration and the law favors joint legal and joint physical custody arrangements. Currently, in San Diego, many parents are sharing time with their children in what is called a “2/2/5". This means Monday and Tuesday with one parent, Wednesday and Thursday with the other parent and Friday and Saturday and Sunday rotate. According to the experts and statistics, if this plan is implemented for more than 48 months, then holidays and birthdays [for example] will be equal for both parents. Some experts believe that the younger the child or children are, the most frequent the contact should be. If the Court does not believe it is in the best interests to place jointly, then the Court will designate one parent to be the primary physical custodian however [in the vast majority of cases in San Diego Superior Court] both parents will have joint legal custody for decision making and this is almost always in the best interests.

Mandatory Mediation With Family Court Services

If you and the other parent can agree on your parenting plan, then this is [almost always] considered to be the best interests. If you agree, you do not have to file a request for order {motion} for a parenting plan and can prepare a written agreement called a stipulation and send to Court for signature by Judge and processing. If you and the other parent cannot agree, however, then the alternative is to ask for a Court order from the Judge. When the request for order is filed in San Diego Superior Court, two court dates will be set: mediation date with Family Court Services and court hearing in front of Judge. In San Diego County, as compared for example with Orange County, if you and the other parent do not reach an agreement, the mediator will prepare a written recommendation and give one copy to you and one copy to the other parent and one copy goes to the Judge. In the vast majority of the cases in Superior Court in San Diego, the Judge will follow the recommendation of the mediator since the mediator is the investigator for the Court speaking with the parents and/or the children and/or therapists and/or other collateral contacts. It is always best to reach as many agreements as possible even if you cannot reach full agreements.

Court Orders for Legal Custody and Physical Custody

The Court will make orders for both legal custody and physical custody. These can be different. For example, the Court can order joint legal custody but can also order primary physical custody to one parent. It is very important that you understand the orders completely.

How an Experienced Family Law Firm in San Diego Can Help With Your Pending Visitation And/or Custody Case

An experienced and local family law firm, such as Doppelt and Forney, APLC can assist you with your pending custody and visitation case. Their law firm offers a consultation which is free of charge and can discuss your individual case and how best to protect your rights and try and obtain your goals.

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