Child Custody and Visitation

Cases involving the custody of minor children, in which the parents are unable to agree, are frequently the most emotionally charged issues parties have to deal with. Custody and visitation issues can arise not only in the dissolution of a marriage or registered domestic partnership, but also in cases where the parents have never been married. If unresolved, issues relating to parenting can last throughout the child's minority.

The attorneys at Marx & Duffy have a great deal of experience and training in bringing sensitivity and compassion to these parenting issues and work with their clients to help identify what are in their children's best interests and how to protect those interests while minimizing, whenever possible, the conflict between the parents.

In California parents may be awarded either sole or joint "legal custody" which relates to the authority of the parents to make decisions effecting the best interests of their children such as medical care, therapy and educational decisions. Parents can also be awarded sole or joint "physical custody" which pertains to which parent has physical responsibility for the children at any particular time. Before parties can ask a Judge make custody and visitation orders, California law requires that the parents first attempt to resolve their dispute in mediation with a Court Mediator. The Legislature has recognized that it is in the best interests of children if their can reach agreements with respect to custody and visitation, rather than leaving those decisions to a Judicial Officer.

In addition parties frequently find it helpful to meet with private mediators or neutral child development experts to assist them in formulating a parenting plan that is sensitive to the needs of their children. Parents may also find a collaborative law model appropriate in their circumstances. In Collaborative Law the parties and attorneys sign an agreement that they will resolve their issues out of Court and the Collaborative attorneys will not act as litigation counsel for the parties in the event the Collaborative process is unsuccessful.

At Marx & Duffy we have experience in assisting client in various forms of dispute resolution and are happy to discuss these various options with our clients to help them try to find a process that is best for them and their children.