San Francisco, CA asked in Family Law, Child Custody and Child Support for California

Q: If my girlfriend and me are splitting up but have two kids. What steps should I take to go about a 50/50?

I don't want to get stuck with paying child support. I want to take care of my kids.

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, when unmarried parents separate and want to establish a 50/50 custody arrangement, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights and ensure the best interests of your children:

1. Establish paternity: If you haven't already done so, legally establish paternity through a voluntary declaration or a court order.

2. Communicate with the other parent: Try to work out a mutually agreeable parenting plan that outlines a 50/50 custody schedule and addresses decision-making responsibilities.

3. Mediation: If you and the other parent cannot agree on a plan, consider mediation to resolve disputes and create a parenting plan with the help of a neutral third party.

4. File a custody case: If mediation fails or is not an option, file a petition with the court to establish custody and visitation rights. In California, this is done through a "Petition to Establish Parental Relationship."

5. Attend court hearings: Present your case for a 50/50 custody arrangement to the court. Emphasize your involvement in your children's lives and your ability to provide a stable environment.

6. Follow court orders: Once the court issues a custody order, follow it closely to maintain your 50/50 custody rights.

Regarding child support, in California, both parents are responsible for supporting their children. Even with a 50/50 custody arrangement, one parent may be required to pay child support if there is a significant difference in income between the parents. The amount of child support is determined by state guidelines, which take into account factors such as each parent's income, the amount of time the children spend with each parent, and any special needs of the children.

It's important to consult with a family law attorney who can provide guidance specific to your situation and help protect your rights throughout the process.

Robert Kane
Robert Kane
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Eagan, MN
  • Licensed in California

A: The are numerous factors that will determine what is in the children’s best interest and the child support obligations. Coming to an agreement with the other parent will more likely produce the situation you describe, but I don't know your specific circumstances. Obviously, an attorney would also benefit your efforts.

In order to ensure the best possible schedule, you need to consult with an attorney, at least in a limited role. Far too often, an individual leaves court disappointed because they weren’t properly prepared. A small investment will provide a polished petition that you can rely upon when presenting your case to the judge.

Limited-scope representation is when you and a lawyer agree that the lawyer will handle some parts of your case and you will handle others. This is different from more traditional arrangements between lawyers and clients where a lawyer is hired to provide legal services on all aspects of a case, from start to finish. Limited-scope representation is sometimes called “unbundled legal services” or “discrete task representation.”

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