San Bernardino Child Custody Lawyer


Whether you are divorcing your spouse with whom you share children or have a child with someone you are not in a relationship with, child custody is a matter that must be resolved. Creating a parenting plan that puts the interests of the child first ensures their well-being, regardless of your relationship with the other parent. Unfortunately, child custody is a complex area of family law that frequently requires significant experience to navigate correctly.

Deciding on a parenting plan for your San Bernardino, CA children can be an emotionally challenging time. It becomes even more difficult when you attempt to learn all the relevant court proceedings and documents to ensure your children have the most beneficial outcome. The Edgar & Dow has over a decade of experience in California family law, and we are ready to support you through your child custody case. Our focus is family law, meaning that our knowledge is deep, and we can apply that knowledge to finding solutions that quickly resolve your case.

San Bernardino Child Custody Lawyer


Child custody refers to the control, care, and financial support of minor children. California Family Code § 3020 states that the court’s primary concern when deciding custody is the child’s welfare, safety, and health. The family code also states that it is public policy for the children to have frequent and continuing access to both parents in the event of a separation, unless this arrangement is found to not be in the child’s interests. Because the court is always guided by what is most beneficial for the child, many factors will be considered when determining child custody:

  • The child’s age
  • The health of your child
  • Each parent’s ability to care for the child
  • The child’s attachment to the community
  • The emotional relationship the child has with each parent
  • Any parental history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or other criminal activity
  • Where the child attends school
  • The child’s wishes, depending on their age and maturity level (generally, children 14 years old and older have a say in their custody arrangement)

In other words, the court will use any available information to create a custody plan that is in the child’s interests. It is important that you create a case that shows why your preferred custody arrangement is the most favorable for the child. Effectively building your case can help the proceedings move faster, decreasing uncertainty and confusion for you and your child.


There are two main types of child custody that will make up your parenting plan:

  • Physical Custody
    This type of custody is used to determine where the child will spend their time. Physical custody can be joint or sole. If joint physical custody is awarded, the child will live with both parents in generally equal amounts. Busy lives can make an exact division difficult, but the time spent with each parent will be similar. If a parent is awarded sole physical custody, the child will spend more of their time with that parent than with the non-custodial parent. When this occurs, the non-custodial parent will be awarded visitation if that is in the child’s interests.
  • Legal Custody
    Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make major decisions for a child’s health, welfare, and education. These choices include school or childcare, religious activities, medical appointments, mental health needs, and extracurricular activities. This type of custody can also be joint or sole. If parents are awarded joint legal custody, they share the ability to make these decisions, while a single parent granted sole legal custody has the right to make all pertinent decisions. Parents who share legal custody can make these choices individually instead of communicating with each other, but it may cause problems that land the co-parents back in court.


It is generally held that children benefit from having parents who share joint physical custody. There are two main types of visitation schedules:

  • Scheduled
    When parents are not able to communicate well with each other, or desire a rigid visitation schedule, they may choose this type of plan. Scheduled visitation plans clearly outline when the child is supposed to be with each parent. One example is a plan where the child spends one week with one parent, then the following week with the other parent.
  • Reasonable
    If the parents can communicate easily and are not hostile toward each other, they may benefit from the flexibility of a reasonable schedule. Parents make a joint decision about when the child will be with each parent. Reasonable schedules are much less strict than scheduled plans, but issues can arise if the amicable relationship between the parents deteriorates.


Creating a custody plan can be difficult, especially if the parents disagree on what course of action is in the child’s interest. These differences in opinions can cause severe issues in a child custody case. Common problems that arise during custody cases include:

  • Decisions Pertaining to the Child’s Upbringing
    If the parents disagree on important decisions affecting how the child is raised, both parents are likely to fight for sole legal custody. If joint legal custody is granted, mediation can help the parents reach mutual decisions that are most beneficial for the child.
  • Information Access
    It can be difficult for both parents to change from a situation where they always have access to their child’s information during a marriage to one where they must rely on their other parent to pass on that information. If one parent is withholding information, it can cause legal issues, especially if the parents share legal custody of the child.
  • Visitation Disruption
    In child custody cases, there will be a court order that lays out how the visitation schedule should be implemented. Parents in conflict may withhold the child from the other parent or not follow the drop-off and pick-up schedule. In some cases, a parent may choose to disrupt the visitation schedule if the other parent is failing to pay child support. Parents are not authorized to stop following the visitation schedule unless another court order has been implemented; failing to abide by the court order can result in another court visit.
  • Virtual Visitation Issues
    Virtual visits include phone and video calls. If the court authorizes parents to have a set number of phone calls each week with the child, problems can arise if the other parent refuses to answer these calls or make the child available for a virtual visit. Preventing these visits can result in a parent being held in contempt of court.
  • Parent Relocations
    Following a divorce, each parent may lean on their family for support through the difficult transition. If the custodial parent’s family does not live close by, or they want to move for a better job opportunity, they must ask the court for approval to relocate. They cannot make the move without authorization from the court.

For most issues that stem from the other parent violating the child custody order and refusing you access to your child, there can be legal ramifications if you can prove their actions. Working with a skilled family law attorney can help you ensure your custody order is followed, meaning that you are able to maintain a close relationship with your child.

Child Custody Lawyer FAQS

Q: Can a Court Deny a Parent Visitation With Their Child?

A: If it is not in the child’s interest to spend time with one of their parents, the court can certainly deny visitation rights to that parent. This often occurs when that parent poses a safety risk to their child. A potential alternative to no visitation is supervised visitation, where the parent can spend time with the child, but it will be monitored by a trusted family member approved by the court or a professional supervisor.

Q: Can a Father Get Joint Custody in California?

A: California courts do not consider a parent’s gender or gender identity when determining child custody. Whenever possible, courts favor joint custody plans because access to both parents is considered important. Unless there is reason to believe joint custody is not beneficial for the child, joint custody is often awarded to fathers.

Q: Will a Child Have a Say in Their Custody Order?

A: It is possible for a child to give input toward their custody agreement. This cut-off is generally around 14 years old, but the court will consider the child’s age and maturity level when determining if their opinion can be contributed. If a child was too young when the custody order was created, a modification can be requested once they reach an age and maturity level where they can make that choice.

Q: When Can You Deny Visitation to the Non-Custodial Parent in California?

A: In many instances, withholding the child from the other parent is considered contempt of court because they have broken the child support agreement. There are, however, circumstances where you can deny visitation. These circumstances include drug and alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, legitimate fear of abduction, and the child’s refusal if they are old enough to make that choice.


Few things are as important as the well-being and safety of your child. The Edgar & Dow can help you with your child custody case, helping you find an outcome that is in the interests of the child. Contact our offices today to discuss your case.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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