Orange County Child Custody Lawyer

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Family law matters are among the most emotional and stressful of all legal situations. Divorce, for example, can be a strenuous and challenging process, especially when children are involved. If you are facing child custody arrangements due to a divorce or other matter, it is vital that you obtain strong legal counsel. By working with an Orange County child custody lawyer, you can protect your parental rights and obtain the most favorable outcome in your custody arrangement.

Child Custody Representation in Orange County, CA

By exclusively focusing on family law cases, The Hatherley Firm has helped families and individuals through the challenging and complex processes involved in child custody cases, child support cases, divorce proceedings, and domestic violence cases.

We believe in fighting for outcomes that represent the greatest interest of the children and can diligently represent our clients to ensure proper custody arrangements are obtained. By offering personalized legal counsel and advocacy, we can provide individual attention to each of our clients and their cases.

How Is Child Custody Determined?

In California, child custody is determined by the courts based on what is considered to be in the child’s greatest interest. By default, the court considers joint custody to be the ideal situation for a child, and the law prescribes equal rights to both parents. However, depending on the particular circumstances of each family, custody arrangements may vary.

When determining what is in the child’s greatest interest, the family court will consider the following factors:

  • Child’s needs. The court will assess the physical and emotional needs of the child(ren) when determining custody arrangements. This includes adequate access to shelter, food, clothing, love, support, and emotional well-being. This also includes areas of stability, such as education, proximity to family, and community involvement.
  • Parental fitness. The court will assess the fitness of each parent to determine an appropriate custody arrangement. They will consider each parent’s mental and physical health, as well as any history of abuse, domestic violence, or neglect, as this could directly influence the child’s welfare. The court will advocate for joint custody unless one or both parents are deemed unfit to maintain the child’s well-being.
  • Other considerations. The court will assess further circumstantial factors, such as the child’s age, preferences, and particular bonds with each parent, and how changes in the family dynamic might impact the child’s overall well-being. They will also consider the role of any extended family and the support they offer.

Ultimately, the court will make the final determination, although each parent may offer input on their own preferences and may provide proof of their fitness to make their case. The court will always prioritize what it deems is in the child’s greatest interest.

What Are the Different Types of Custody Arrangements?

Parents may share joint custody over a child, or the court may award one parent sole custody over a child. However, it is important to note that there are two different types of custody for which the court will determine an arrangement:

  • Legal custody. Legal custody involves the right to make decisions regarding important matters pertaining to the child’s welfare, health, education, and other matters. It is possible for couples to share legal custody over a child, even if they do not share physical custody.
  • Physical custody. Physical custody refers to where the child will live. With joint physical custody, the child will spend significant periods with each parent. With sole custody, the child will generally live full-time with one parent. Depending on the court’s determination, the other parent may or may not have visitation rights, also known as parenting time.

The court will always seek to include both parents in the child’s life unless concerns regarding welfare prevent them from doing so. Once a determination is made, the agreement is official and final, although modifications can be made in the future by making an appeal to the court.


Q: How Much Does a Child Custody Lawyer Cost in California?

A: The cost of hiring a child custody lawyer in California can vary depending on the complexity of your case, the experience of your attorney, and whether or not your case goes to court. In general, child custody lawyers in Orange County, who are Certified Family Law Specialists, charge an hourly rate of at least $450. Some cases that may be relatively straightforward may cost a flat rate, but those that are expected to experience litigation will be charged on an hourly rate basis.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer for Child Custody in California?

A: California does not legally require you to obtain a lawyer for child custody disputes. However, it can be extremely difficult to obtain a favorable outcome without proper and experienced legal counsel. Adequately petitioning for custody requires knowledge of the legal system, negotiation and litigation skills, and an effective legal strategy.

Working with a skilled child custody lawyer can protect you against baseless accusations that may undermine your legally perceived parental fitness and ensure you are properly represented.

Q: How to Win a Child Custody Case in California for Fathers?

A: California judges will make any and all determinations for custody, support, and visitation rights based on what is in the greatest interest of the child. State law recognizes both parents as equal custodians, providing fathers with the same rights to request custody as mothers.

To demonstrate parental fitness, you will provide factual evidence that supports your ability to care for the child, including their health, safety, and education. Unless there are concerns, joint custody will be the default arrangement.

Q: How Do I Get Full Custody of a Child as a Mother in California?

A: California considers both parents to have equally presumed custody rights to the child and will default to a joint custody arrangement unless there are serious concerns for the health or safety of the child. However, if there are concerns with the father, such as a history of domestic violence, then a mother may advocate for sole custody as being in the greatest interest of the child. Courts will consider several factors when determining what will provide the most stable and healthy environment.

Contact Your Orange County Child Custody Attorney Today

If you are facing child custody determinations due to a divorce or other family law matter, make sure you obtain qualified and experienced legal counsel. An attorney from The Hatherley Firm can represent you and fight for the most favorable outcome in your custody determination case. Contact our office today to find out how we can help.

Office Location

2050 Main Street, Suite 600 Irvine, CA 92614

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