Visitation and Child Support
In making appropriate child custody rulings, the court must determine what is in the best interests of your children. The legal considerations are complex. Generally, the court weighs which parent is best able to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the children, the history of parental responsibilities, contacts between child and parents, and, which parent will most likely promote and provide frequent and continuing interaction between the children and their other parent.
Not mandatory, but courts often favor the report and testimony of an expert to make decisions in difficult or contentious custody or visitation cases. Expert testimony comes from a court-appointed mental health professional. Other options include child custody investigations through a County mediation and investigative agency.
The court may also appoint an attorney to represent your children, highly beneficial when the parents’ needs or desires conflict with the needs and/or best interests of the child, or if the child wishes to express a primary custodial parent preference. In California, use of the county mediation service is a mandatory condition to the court’s willingness to hear any contested custody or visitation issue. The purpose of court mediation is to help parents resolve their family’s own custody and visitation needs. A trained social worker in a confidential mediation setting is, in Orange County, strictly a settlement tool. Recommending the appointment of counsel for a child, or that a custody evaluation be performed are additional tools. Where a case appears to be difficult or contentious, call on Attorney Hugh Douglas Whittemore. Put over 37 years of child custody and divorce law experience on your side and that of your children.