Child Custody Lawyers

Protecting the Relationship Between You and Your Children

Are you going through a separation or divorce in California and have a child or children with your ex-spouse? Do you need expert legal advice to help navigate the family court system and your child custody case?

Our experienced child custody lawyers and legal professionals at Lewellen | Strebe Family Law Firm have helped parents just like you create the best legal strategy to achieve the best outcome for you and your children. We understand that determining child custody is a sensitive issue that can become emotional and stressful for parents who want the best for their child or children.

When you choose to partner with our family law firm, you can rest assured you will have the legal knowledge and experience that has provided successful child custody agreements for many families across Northern California.

A photo of a father playing with his daughter while she is holding a balloon and wearing a ballerina dress

Schedule Your Free Child Custody Consultation Today

How Is Child Custody Determined in California?

In California there can be many factors considered in determining child custody. Ultimately when a child’s parents can not come to an agreement, a California Family Court Judge will consider what is in the best interest of the children. The court will determine two broad categories of custody, legal custody, and physical custody.

Legal Custody Can Be:

  • Joint: Joint custody allows both parents to share rights and responsibilities in making important decisions about the child including health, education, and their welfare.
  • Sole: Sole custody gives one parent the rights and responsibilities of making important decisions about the child including, health, education, and their welfare.

Physical Custody Can Be:

  • Joint: Joint physical custody allows both parents to have the child live with them based on an agreed-upon or court-ordered schedule.
  • Sole or Primary: A parent with sole or primary custody has the children live with them for the majority of the time and can include a schedule for child visitation with the other parent.

California Law states that when parents can not come to a custody agreement without court involvement, they must participate in court-ordered mediation in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the case will go back in front of the judge and litigation will be necessary.

In determining the best interest of the child, the court must consider many factors according to California Family Code, including:

  • Parental stability in the child’s life
  • The parents’ history of abuse or criminal acts
  • The parents’ ability to provide emotional, physical and financial support
  • The parents’ desire to promote a healthy and positive relationship with the other parent
  • The parents’ work schedules, living conditions, and commitments outside the home
  • The child’s age and desires (Only when the child has reached a specific age)

I trust Kim’s experience!

“I trust Kim’s experience! Kim has been helping me through my child custody case. Kim has been great to me. She tells me exactly what needs to be done and I trust her experience. She answers all my questions and gives me clear answers. She has also been very patient which I appreciate. My case is still ongoing but so far she has helped me to get time with my kids that I want…” ~ Avvo

Protect Your Relationship with Your Children!

Proven Child Custody Proces

When you choose to hire Lewellen | Strebe Family Law Firm, you are getting the expert legal advice we have acquired from years of helping parents just like you protect the best interests of your children and your relationship with them. While each client’s case can have unique issues and we craft our approach to each situation, we start each case with our proven child custody process which include:

Free Initial Consultation

We understand that determining what is in the best interest of your child and their custody can be an emotional and difficult time. Our free initial one-hour consultation allows you to get to know our law firm, attorneys, and legal process. We take the time to listen to your concerns and answer your questions. We offer a free initial consultation rather than charge you because we do not feel the need to charge our potential new clients for learning about our firm and how we can serve them. It is also another small way we can help people who may not be able to afford hiring an attorney.

Establish Goals and Method

Establish Goals and Method – From the very beginning, you meet with Attorneys Kimberly Lewellen or Michael Strebe, who will work directly with you every step of the way when you choose to have us represent you. They examine your unique issues surrounding your child custody case and work with you to establish the goals and what legal tools to use to best achieve them.

Prepare A Legal Strategy

Once we understand all the issues surrounding your case, we prepare a legal strategy to achieve your goals. We also begin to gather all the documents and documentation the California Family Courts will require. This can include temporary custody petitions, documenting what you desire for mediation, and other court fillings.

Mediation Point 4
We Aggressively Represent You in Court

While we may be able to negotiate a favorable child custody agreement during mediation that will allow you to avoid additional litigation, we will be ready. Should your case go to court, you can have peace of mind that you are being represented by an attorney with years of experience negotiating, arguing for, and attaining results that are in the best interest of our clients and their families.

Additional Family Law Services We Provide

Child custody cases can vary due to many factors including child support and visitation, divorce, property division, high-wealth cases, just to name a few. Our family law attorneys and professionals provide our clients with an exceptional depth of experience handling cases involving a wide range of legal issues, including:

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody

Do I have to go to court for child custody?

If both parents approve a child custody agreement, you can have the agreement written up and filed with the court, avoiding the lengthy court process. In addition, if you disagree on some issues but are

willing to work together to negotiate a plan that has the child’s best interest in mind, you can use a neutral mediator to help facilitate an agreement. At Lewellen | Strebe Family Law Firm, we have provided mediation as an alternative to the traditional Family Court System. This type of alternative dispute resolution can save both parents time, money, and unnecessary stress. If you think you may be a good candidate for mediation, contact our firm today to schedule a free mediation consultation.

Do I need a lawyer to file for child custody

You are not required to have a lawyer represent you in a child custody case. However, when the custody of a child is contested between parents, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer to best understand your legal options. Child custody cases can require large amounts of paperwork, court fillings, and court hearings. Having a lawyer to guide and represent you through the legal process is the best way to obtain the best outcome for your custody case.

What is the difference between child custody and child visitation?

When one parent is given sole custody of a child, they are the only parent who can make important life choices for the minor and have the sole responsibility of providing a home for the child. The court will generally give the parent without custody visitation rights to see the child and continue their bond. The type of visitation and frequency can vary dependent on many factors, but in most cases the court system is very generous with visitation rights.

What is the difference between arbitration and mediation for child custody cases?

On the surface, arbitration and mediation can be similar. They both utilize a neutral third party, an impartial judge, councilor, or lawyer for example. Mediation is favored by many courts to reach a resolution without additional court litigation. The mediator meets with both parents to negotiate the custody issues in an amicable way. The recommendations made by the moderator are not legally binding. In arbitration, both parties submit evidence and documentation to the arbitrator to prove their case, such as in court. The arbitrator will then consider all the evidence and make a legally binding decision. The decision can be appealed, but only if it can be proven the arbitrator was not neutral

What if the other parent lies during the custody hearing?

When there are claims of a spouse making false or misleading allegations about the other, Family Court Judges have the ability to order a child custody evaluation called a 730 evaluation to provide the court with better insight. These evaluations are typically ordered in cases where there are concerns of:

  • Child abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health issues
  • Questionable parenting practices
  • Disagreements on how the child is to be raised
  • A parent who wants to move out of state or country