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Family Time


Child Custody Attorney's at The F.M. Zavala Law Firm have the family law knowledge, skills, and experience to advise clients on Child Custody and DCFS matters in the Santa Clarita area. I am proud to extend my professional services to help all of my clients resolve their Child Custody Issues.

After Child Custody lawyer Zavala files the divorce petition, a Summons (Notice) is served on the other parent. Once the Summons is served and until Judgment is entered, neither parent can take a child out of state without the prior written consent of the other parent.

The "parenting plan" or custody agreement may be the most important and difficult issue in a divorce. The main question to ask yourself is, What is in the child's best interest ? During a divorce, parents should put aside their personal differences and animosity, and focus on minimizing damage to the children. Child Custody Attorney Zavala will help both sides resolve their personal issues and bad feelings in order to make the divorce less painful for the children.

If parents can't agree on a parenting plan, then the court will decide the custody and visitation arrangements. Parents will be required to meet with a court-appointed mediator to try and reach an agreement on a parenting plan. In some divorce cases, a court may order counseling for the parents or the children or both. The relationship between parent and child is so protected  that courts rarely order no visitation at all. A Judge has discretion to award visitation rights to grandparents whenever it would serve the best interests of the child.

After Judgment, the divorce court will often award custody of the children to one parent and vistitation to the other. The parent with custody is known as the custodial parent. In general, absent bad faith, a custodial parent is free to move anywhere, but the other parent can require a hearing to determine if the move is made in bad faith such as to impair visitation, and if the move will cause such detriment to the child that a change in custody is required. The custodial parent is not permitted to forbid an arranged visitation for any reason other than the well-being of the child. For example, if the visiting parent arrives drunk, it would be reasonable to refuse the visit for that particular occassion only. However, visiting can not be refused because of ill will or disagreement between the parents or even because of a failure to pay child or spousal support by the visiting parent. Likewise, support can not be suspended because visitation is denied.



The child lives with both parents equally and both parents share the right of making decisions related to the child's health, education, and welfare.


 Both parents share the right of making decisions related to the child's health, education, and welfare.


Each parents will have significant periods of physical custody of child. The child has frequent contact with both parents, for example a 50/50 or 70/30 arrangement.


The child will live with only one parent, with no visitation bu other parent.


Only one parent will have the right to make decisions relating to the child's health, education, and welfare.

It is important to note, that in a divorce, there is no legal preference for one form of custody over another, each case depends on the specific facts. In addition, it is a myth that there is a legal preference for mothers over fathers. In determining custody issues, the primary question for the divorce court is always the same, What is in the best interest of the child? Courts will often decide to keep a child in whichever home he or she has been living since separation.

Child Custody Attorney Zavala will discuss with you the specific parenting plan which best serves your needs. Once a parenting plan has been worked out in detail, Child Cusotdy lawyer Zavala will work with the other parent to create a custody and visitation agreement that benefits all parties involved. In a modern divorce,visitation also includes virtual visitation, such as staying in touch with your child via video calls, texting, e-mail and cel phones.

One final point, when custody is an issue, a Judge must consider abuse or threats of abuse by either parent to any family member as well as continual abuse of alcohol or drugs. In a divorce case, there is a presumption against awarding any type of custody or visitation to a parent the Judge determines has committed domestic abuse in the family. However, before such determination can be made, the Judge will require indpendent and reliable proof of the allegations. If the allegations are false, the Judge can impose a stiff penalty plus attorney fees against the parent who made the false accusation of domestic abuse. 

Child Custody Lawyer Zavala will guide your case through the process and make sure your receive the best outcome possible.

Contact Child Custody Attorney, Francisco M. Zavala, Esq. (661) 753-3534

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