Child Custody and Support

At the Law Offices of Jennifer S. Morrison, we work diligently to see that our clients are well-represented in divorce and/or paternity proceedings, particularly when issues of child custody and support are at stake.

Child Custody

When a marriage or a relationship that has produced children ends in divorce, two separate types of custody must be determined:

  • Physical custody refers to who the child actually lives with and when.
  • Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make educational, medical, and religious decisions regarding the child's upbringing.

All custody decisions start out with a presumption in favor of some form of joint custody, although sole custody may be granted when it is in the best interest of the child.  

Visitation

A visitation plan outlines how the parents will share their custody of the child. Even where sole custody is granted, some rights of visitation, which may be supervised, are usually granted to the non-custodial parent. Supervision may be conducted by a professional agency or another adult, or by the custodial parent.

Grandparents may obtain visitation rights at the discretion of the court. The court will usually be strongly influenced by the wishes of the custodial parent on this matter, so it behooves the grandparents to try to reach an agreement with the parent beforehand, if possible. When the child's parent who is the son or daughter of the grandparents is deceased, the court will give special consideration to the wishes of the grandparents. Grandparents wishing visitation may either join an existing divorce proceeding or file an independent request with the court.

Child Support

The court can order child support to be paid by either parent or by both parents. Support orders generally last until the child turns eighteen, or nineteen if the child is still in school. If the child is disabled and not self-supporting, child support can extend into adulthood.

The amount of child support to be paid is determined according to a guideline based on factors including the earning capacity of each parent, the number of children to be supported, the custodial plan, and expenses such as medical care and health insurance.

Department of Child Support (DCSS) cases

DCSS oversees a network of Local Child Support Agencies (LCSAs) around the state to ensure that families are receiving court-ordered financial and medical support. DCSS can play a role in establishing, modifying, and enforcing a court order for child support or an order for health coverage. Both parents are entitled to have their own legal representation in DCSS cases.

Issues regarding children are often the most emotional and important aspects of a divorce. Attorney Jennifer Morrison understands the significance of these issues to her clients, while also recognizing that the presence of children means the spouses will continue to need a working relationship long after the marriage has ended. To that end, Ms. Morrison works hard to protect her clients’ interests without destroying the possibility of future practical interactions between the parties.  

If you need legal representation in connection with a divorce proceeding where children are involved, reach out to the divorce attorneys in Fresno at the Law Offices of Jennifer S. Morrison, A Professional Corporation, today.