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Child Custody and Visitation Disputes; Information for Sonoma County Residents

Children are precious. Unfortunately, in many Santa Rosa child custody and visitation disputes, the children are considered the prize that both parents want to win. Sometimes a parent will take advantage of visitation and refuse to return a child at the agreed-upon time. If there is no court order regarding physical custody, Sonoma County law enforcement cannot do anything unless the child is in danger. If you find yourself involved in this difficult circumstance, there are some things you can do to ensure you are acting in the best interests of your child and within the law.

Try to Talk it Out
The very first step should be to attempt to work things out with your ex without involving outside parties. You should attempt to find out why your ex does not want to return the children. Does she feel like they do not get enough time with the children? Does he have concerns about the health and safety of the children while they are in your care? Find out if you can resolve these issues between the two of you.

Contact Law Enforcement
While your local Sonoma County law enforcement officials will not be able to do anything unless the children are determined to be in danger, call them anyway and ask to file a statement. This protects you by having the situation officially documented. This is important because the children’s other parent could state that you refused to pick them up and this will alleviate this.

Document Everything
Make sure to write down when you dropped the children off, when you attempted to pick them up and any conversation that took place between your ex and yourself. You should also note your children’s behavior that you are able to observe – were the children trying to get out the door when they saw that you were there? Could you hear them in the home? Did you get to see them at all?

Go to Court
If there is already a custody order in effect, then there are procedures in place for going to court to file for a contempt of court complaint and obtaining an emergency custody order. You may consider contacting an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to ensure that you and your children are being protected. Other services or programs may be ordered at that time, such as parenting education, home studies, background checks and possibly psychological testing and counseling. At this time, the judge will also approve a temporary custody order which will stand until programs are completed and the final custody order is determined.

Sonoma County Child custody and visitation disputes can be a stressful part of divorces and breakups. It is hoped that both parents are able to communicate well enough to work through these issues on their own. However, if you are unable to resolve these disputes on your own, the legal system will become involved and decide for you, in the best interests of the child.

If you are having child custody and visitation issues, Beck Law P.C. is located in Santa Rosa and offers an entire scope of divorce services including child custody and visitation to clients in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Windsor, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Clearlake, Lakeport, Kelseyville and throughout Sonoma County, and Lake County.

Beck Law P.C. offers a no cost, no obligation initial consultation and can furnish the experience and knowledge to help guide you through your child custody issues.

Making an appointment to meet with us is an investment in exploring what options may or may not apply to your particular situation. Your visit to the Beck Law Offices is confidential, as is the information discussed. You can contact our office at 707-576-7175 or email us at

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