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Child custody and parenting plans in California

When two California residents have a child together before deciding that they no longer want to be together, it must be determined where that child will live and who will make the decisions regarding the child's upbringing. If both parents decide to be a part of the child's life, they will need to reach an agreement called a parenting plan.

Requesting child custody can be a lengthy process. First, the proper forms requesting custody must be filled out. Once the forms are reviewed by an attorney or the family law facilitator for accuracy, they can be submitted to the court clerk. It is always recommended that the petitioner keep a copy of the request for themselves. Next, the court will schedule a mediation or court date. Once the date is set, a third party must serve the other person at least 16 days before the date and file a proof of service. It is then up to both parties to attend the court date.

If both parents agree to work out a parenting plan, there are several steps that need to be followed. Both parents must fill out and sign the court forms and the agreement before they are reviewed by the attorney or facilitator. The judge must then sign the agreement before it is filed with the court clerk.

Depending upon the unique circumstances of a case, an attorney may be able to help their client either negotiate a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the child or seek custody. An attorney may also provide their client with legal counsel regarding how to deal with easing the transition for their child in the event that the ex-couple has filed for divorce.

Source: Findlaw, "California Child Custody Procedure", August 19, 2014

Source: Findlaw, "California Child Custody Procedure", August 19, 2014

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