Articles Tagged with California child custody lawyers

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divorce parent passport problems childrenLet’s say you are a divorced parent hoping to take a trip out of the country with the kids, but your former spouse is not supportive of the idea. Are you allowed to leave the country anyway? The short answer is maybe. An experienced local family law and divorce attorney can address these, and other related issues in your specific case.

Divorced Parent Traveling With Kids

If you have shared physical and/or legal custody of the child/children, then each divorced parent has a legal right to participate in decisions regarding travel. A divorced parent who has sole custody has more latitude to make such decisions, but is required to provide documentation to prove their legal status. According to the State Department’s Public Law 116-113, the consent of both divorced parents is required before any child under the age of 16 may be issued a passport. Certain documents are required in the event both parents cannot be present during the application process. Depending on your circumstances, one or more of the following may be necessary during the application process:

  • The court order or divorce decree that grants the divorced parent sole custody of the child/children;
  • A court order that explicitly defines the divorced parent’s right to apply for a passport or to travel internationally;
  • A signed, dated, and notarized Form DS-3053 Statement of Consent from your former spouse along with a photocopy of their ID.

Flagging Kid’s Passport Applications

A divorced parent of minor children can also request to have their child/children’s names entered into the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program.  This is a system that automatically notifies the parent in the event someone else, such as a former spouse, attempts to apply for a passport.

If Parents Were Never Married

In the event a child’s parents have never married, both still have the right to block a passport application if both of their names are on the child’s birth certificate. The exception is in a case in which one has been granted sole legal custody in a family court.

If Children Already Have Passports

What if your children had passports prior to the divorce? Can you or your spouse take the child/children out of the country without the other’s consent? If your divorce does not specifically address travel outside the United States, it is possible for such travel to occur.  However, in the event that there is a serious concern about one parent absconding with the children with no plans to return, you should definitely consider getting a court order preventing international travel. The court can also require one parent to surrender the child/children’s passports to the other, or to keep the passports in the possession of the court. Continue reading →

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child custody evaluationsThe court will often resort to relying on child custody evaluations when there are volatile child custody issues in a divorce proceeding, or if for some reason parents cannot come to an agreement regarding child custody. Child custody evaluations, are conducted by qualified mental health professionals, to make determinations related to the legal and the physical custody of children. Psychologists, whose goal it is to address questions related to the best interest of the child, often conduct these evaluations.

Understanding California Child Custody Evaluations

There are two key components to child custody in California:

  • Physical custody relates to the living arrangements of the child.  Either parent may be awarded primary custody, or shared (joint) custody may be given to both parents.
  • Legal custody refers to decision-making powers.  It, too, may be solely or jointly awarded. The parent(s) who have legal custody have the ability to make conclusive decisions related to religious activity, education, medical issues, travel, and other important matters.

Preparing for a Child Custody Evaluation

It is no doubt stressful to even consider undergoing such a high-stakes evaluation. Even the most competent individual with the most outstanding parenting skills tends to be a bit intimidated when under the microscope. Some suggestions to get through it with as little stress as possible include:

  • Choose cooperation over obstinacy. You may resent the entire process, but you will be much better off if you accommodate evaluators, who might otherwise interpret your resistance in a negative way.
  • Treat the evaluation as a job interview. Put your best foot forward by displaying confidence, honesty, positivity, and punctuality. Obviously, express the love and concern you have for your child.
  • Have documentation related to your child ready for the interview.
  • Show the evaluator in word and deed that you have the best interests of your child in the forefront.  

How is the Child Custody Evaluation Conducted?

A number of strategies may be employed over a period of time to learn about the child including:

  • Running observations of the child in various settings;
  • Scheduling interviews with parents;
  • Conducting clinical interviews with the child;
  • Administering psychological tests;
  • Weighing other available documentation, like school records, medical records, and childcare records.

Additionally, extended family, friends, teachers, and other individuals who are familiar with and knowledgeable about the child may be contacted for relevant information. When all data is gathered, it will be evaluated by the psychologist and recommendations will be made to the court based on the best interests of the child. Continue reading →

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Holiday VisitationHoliday visitation after a divorce. Managing child visitation scheduling, let alone the emotions, associated with the holidays can be tricky. Ultimately, the best thing parents can do is to remember that its your job to make things easier for the kids. Here are some tips on how you can do that:

Maintain or Create a Good Relationship with your Ex for the Sake of the Kids

It goes without saying that you should do everything in your power to minimize tensions with your former spouse when the kids are present. Beyond old-fashioned courtesy, you should never badmouth your ex to the kids. Do just the opposite, pointing out their good qualities. Ask your former partner for a framed picture of themselves to display in your child’s room. Create a stress-free relationship by encouraging phone and email communication on a regular basis.

Holiday Visitation – Arrange Schedules Early

Coordinate with your former spouse about special events, relatives from out of town, and other things that might impact the holiday visitation schedule. Do not hold children back from fun activities with their other parent out of spite. Show them that you get pleasure from knowing they are happy and well taken  care of.

Holiday Visitation – When Kids do Not Want to Leave Home to Visit the Other Parent

Even if they resist, kids need to spend time with the non-custodial parent if it is part of the legal agreement. In most cases, it is a temporary panic that will recede with time. Help children who fear leaving home by reassuring them that they will have fun with their non-custodial parent. Tell your child you will plan something fun to do together when they return. If they are anxious about being away, give them something from home to take along for comfort, like a favorite book, blanket, or toy. Having something of the custodial parent, such as a scarf, or even a photo, will comfort some children.

Holiday Visitation – When it Comes to Gifts…

One-upmanship benefits no one. It is so much better to take the competition out of gift giving and remember what the holidays are really about – the spirit of giving, connections with loved ones, and gratitude. By communicating with your former spouse about the spirit of the holidays, as well as about specific gifts you are getting for your child, you can avoid frustrations and disappointment all around. If you really want to help your children through the strain of having two families during the holidays, consider helping them choose a small gift or make a homemade card for the non-custodial parent. What better way to give your children permission and encouragement to love both parents?

Traditions Gone Amok

If your family has had holiday traditions that can no longer occur, replace them with new activities that your children can enjoy. Encourage your ex to take over some of the things that the family once did all together so your child can look forward to spending time there, as well. If there are some activities that can still be done with everyone together and it feels comfortable, there is nothing wrong with that. Continue reading →

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