When there is a child or children from a marriage or outside a marriage (paternity), the court has the power to make child custody orders. Once the court has made orders it has continuing jurisdiction to modify the previous order whenever there has been significant changes since the last order. The court retains that power until the child reaches the age of 18 or, if 18 but is still a full time high school student, or reaches the age of 19, whichever first occurs.
There are two types of custody, Legal Custody and Physical Custody.
1. Legal Custody. Legal custody can be either Joint or Sole.
Joint legal custody means that the parents shall share custody.
In exercising joint legal custody the Ventura court typically orders the following:
A. General Provisions. Both parents share in the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to health, education, and welfare of the child. The parents shall confer with one another in good faith, and mutual consent of the parents is required for decisions concerning, but not limited to, matters such as non-emergency medical treatment, orthodontic care, psychological counseling or treatment, court actions, obtaining a driver’s license, legal contracts, change of school, quitting school, extracurricular activities that take place during the other parent’s custodial time, and/or special education. Each parent may independently plan extracurricular activities that occur only during his/her parenting time.
B. Emergency Health Care. Each parent shall be allowed to obtain emergency health care for the child without the consent of the other party. Each party shall notify the other parent as soon as reasonably possible of any illness or injury requiring medical attention or any emergency, medical or otherwise, involving the child. For purposes of this order it shall be presumed that a party has the ability to inform the other party within one hour of arrival at the medical facility.
C. Sanctions. If a parent acts without obtaining the required consent of the other parent to decisions regarding the minor child, he or she may be subject to being found in contempt of court, and/or the court may change the legal and/or physical custody of the minor child.
D. Access to Records. Both parties shall have access to all records pertaining to the minor child, including but not limited to, educational, medical, dental, and psychological records, and be permitted to consult independently with any and all professionals involved with the child. Mother and Father shall be listed as authorized persons to receive any such information directly from the school, daycare, doctor, dentist’s office, and hospital. It is not the responsibility of either parent to keep the other informed in these areas, except as otherwise defined herein. It is each party’s responsibility to request school calendars, progress reports, report cards, Parent-Teacher conferences, and IEP meetings directly from appropriate school staff, and to request any medical information, directly from any and all treating physician(s), dentist(s) and/or practitioner(s). If a child brings home any written notice or communication, the parent who receives it promptly shall provide a copy to the other parent.
E. General/Emergency Contact Information. Each party shall advise any school(s), childcare provider(s), medical practitioner(s), of the name, address, and phone number(s) of the other party in any registration, enrollment, emergency notification cards or other forms in which family information is requested for the minor child.
Sole legal Custody means that one parent will have the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare of the child.
When the Ventura court orders sole legal custody to one parent, we typically see the following orders:
A. General Provisions. (The one parent granted sole legal custody) [either mother or father] alone has the right and responsibility to make all decisions relating to health, education, and welfare of the child, including, but not limited to, non-emergency medical treatment, orthodontic care, psychological counseling or treatment, court actions, obtaining a driver’s license, legal contracts, change of school, quitting school, and all extracurricular activities.
B. Emergency Health Care. Same as above.
C. Access to Records. Same as above.
D. General/Emergency Contact Information. Same as above.
A sole legal custody award is generally disfavored by the court. Typically, the court looks for circumstances such as, but not limited to, one parent is in jail, has been absent from the child’s life for an extended period of time, has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or mental health issues. Even when a court is inclined to grant sole legal custody, the court may still seek ways in which the noncustodial parent can have the opportunity to regain their right to legal custody in the future. The court may look to see if the noncustodial parent has taken parenting classes, co-parenting classes, anger management classes, completed rehabilitation programs, attendance at alcoholic anonymous and/or narcotics anonymous meetings, individual counseling, group therapy, etc.
2. Physical Custody. Physical custody can be either Joint or Sole.
Joint physical custody means that each parent will have significant periods of physical custody. Joint physical custody must be shared by the parents in a manner that ensures the child frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Joint physical custody does not require that exactly half of the child’s time be spent with each parent.
Sole physical custody means that the child will reside with, and be under the supervision of, one parent, subject to the court’s power to order visitation to the other parent.
A parenting plan will be set forth specifying the regularly scheduled days and times that the child will be with each parent. The plan may also include holidays such as, but not limited to, Spring Break, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Christmas, Summer Break, child’s birthday, parents birthday, any other holiday or special times unique to the parties.
A custody order may also include provisions related to: transportation, custodial exchanges, planned travel, communication between the parties, change of residence, derogatory comments, updated contact information, extracurricular activities, telephone calls, mail, emails, text messages, parenting classes, co-parenting, anger management, drug testing, and more.
In cases where the parties have a history of inappropriate conversations, the court could require the parties register and use a website based communications monitoring program such as the Family Law Wizard. The parties must use this program in order to communicate with one another.
FAMILY LAW ISSUES
Modification of Child Support
Child Support Arrears
Child Move Away
Child Name Change
Modification of Spousal Support
Termination of Spousal Support
Kick Out of Residence Orders
Civil Harassment Orders
Civil Stay Away Orders
Sale/Buy Out of a Home
Division of Property (Assets)
Division of Debts
Sale/Buy Out of a Business
Step Parent Adoption
Modification of Divorce
Post Marital Agreements