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General Information About Child Custody for Parents in San Diego who are in a Legal Separation, Divorce or Paternity Case in 2013

At the outset you should know that child custody cases are complex and may well require an appearance in San Diego Superior Court for the mandatory mediation no matter if you are married [divorce or legal separation] or not married [paternity] as well as the court hearing itself.

Here are some general questions you might need to know the answers to and all cases are different.

How Does a Judge Make Decisions in Child Custody Cases?

In San Diego, the San Diego Judge is guided by the ‘best interests of the child’ analysis. In addition to the below, issues such as bonding, stability, frequent and continuing contact and siblings are important. In San Diego, the law does not make a distinction between a full sibling and a half sibling.

These are some of the things a Judge will look for:

  • What are the social, emotional, educational, and other needs of the child and how best will these be met?
  • What sort of home environment will each party provide?
  • What is the relationship of the child with each parent and which parent is the most likely to facilitate and encourage the parenting plan and time with the other parent.
  • If the child is mature and old enough to make an informed decision, which parent is it likely to choose? In San Diego, the child can state a “preference” in mediation when they are mature enough however most San Diego Judges will not allow testimony in open court by a child.
  • How stable are both parents mentally and emotionally?
  • Has there been any past history of domestic violence?
  • How safe will the child be in the care of each parent? Are there any neglect, molest or sexual abuse issues? Has CPS been involved? If so, was the allegations substantiated, unsubstantiated or unfounded?
In Which State Do I File for Child Custody?

In San Diego, you will file the custody case within the jurisdiction of the home state of the child. The home state is considered the state in which the child has resided consecutively for at least the preceding six months. But this rule has exceptions and each case must be analyzed individually. If the child is below six-months of age, the home state is considered the state where the child has resided since birth. For example, even if the child is conceived in San Diego, if the child is born in Mexico then Mexico would have jurisdiction under the UCCJEA and under the Hague Convention.

If you have recently moved states with your child you might not be able to file a custody case in the new state till you have resided in that state for a minimum of six months. Also if there is a custody order already in force, you might be restricted to the same court which ordered the original order for any custody issues which arise at a later date.

In cases involving more than one state, like if the child has been moved across states or if parents are in different states, then the jurisdictional issue becomes more complex. Generally such cases may be governed by both federal and state laws. If the case involves a state and another country, then the Hague Convention may apply.

Your custody attorney will be able to advise you about your state of jurisdiction.

Temporary Emergency Custody

If you are looking for temporary emergency custody and have just moved to a new state, your filing might be dictated by local state laws. The vast majority of the states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

The UCCJEA permits you to file an application for temporary emergency custody outside your home state if:

  • The child is presently in that state.
  • The child needs emergency protection, has been abandoned, or is at risk of maltreatment or abuse.
Child Custody Legal Services in California

Doppelt and Forney, APLC is a family law firm which provides legal services in child custody cases in California. The firm practices in San Diego where you can avail of a free introductory 30-minute meeting. If you are involved in a custody dispute or something related to it, you should hire a family law attorney experienced with the child custody laws of your state to represent you. Before you hire an attorney make sure you check out his/her background and experience in the field.

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