California Child Custody & Child Support Attorneys: Newsletters
In deciding custody of a child, a judge or master must determine what would be in the child’s best interests. This standard is used whether the child is being placed temporarily until a full custody hearing can be held, or in awarding joint or sole custody to a parent, pursuant to a divorce, or in placing the child with a third party as a result of a custody dispute.
Whether the issues of custody and visitation were agreed upon by the parents or determined by a court after a custody hearing, the parents may later agree to modify the court order as to who has legal custody, who has physical custody, who has rights of visitations, and the terms and periods of custody and visitation.
The Child Support Recovery Act, well known as the “deadbeat-dad” law, makes it a federal crime to flee a state in order to avoid paying child support arrearages. The law applies to any parent who owes more than $5,000 in back child support payments or who has failed to pay on the arrearage due for more than one year.
In order to protect a child, a court will sometimes impose restrictions on the rights of a noncustodial parent to visit with a child. The extent of the restrictions is based upon what the court finds will best protect the child while still fostering the relationship between the child and the parent.
Too often, a parent, who did not like a child custody or visitation ruling in one state, would take the child to another state. In the new state, the parent could seek a new custody order or simply avoid the reach of the other parent’s attempts to have the custody order of the first state enforced in the second state. To combat these problems the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act was drafted. In 1997, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws drafted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to address issues that arose from the application of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. The UCCJEA provides interstate enforcement procedures for child custody and visitation orders.