Articles Posted in Custody and Visitation

Pets are an essential part of any family. After all, dogs are considered man’s best friend. For a lot of newlyweds, the idea of getting a dog or a cat before having children is ideal for several different reasons. Firstly, it can be used as a test to gauge if the couple can seriously care for another living being together. Secondly, owning most pets requires people to give up a significant amount of free time for training and extra cash for toys, food, toiletries for the pets, etc. Pets are considered the predecessor to children in the world of marriage.

So, what happens to the fur babies when a couple decides to call it quits and get divorced? Pet custody can become a huge point of contention during the mediation and settlement stages of any marriage. On January 1, 2019, California enacted Family Code Section 2605, a law that aims specifically at dealing with the ins and outs of “pet custody.”

Under Family Code Section 2605, judges are given the power to determine who gets ownership of the pets based on what is in the pet’s best interest. Prior to the enactment of this law, pets were treated as community property assets, needing to be divided between divorcing parties. This is the same kind of mentality that goes into splitting assets such as the tv, cars, joint bank accounts, etc. In most cases, whoever purchased, rescued, or primarily cared for the pet typically won ownership. However, picking the parent who won the pet was always discretionary as there was no clear-cut criteria for determining who was more fit to take care of the animal.

At the start of COVID-19, we saw a plethora of new types of issues rise to the surface of family law issues. For one, there are no federal mandates regarding child vaccination, and it varies by each state.

Some vaccinations, like polio, tetanus, etc., are required to attend public schools, daycares and even many private schools, but there are several questions left unanswered regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and the future of the law surrounding this topic.

Although children under 16 are not yet eligible for any of the currently available COVID-19 vaccinations, it is clear that they will be in the near future. Vaccinations are already a sore subject for many American parents and within school systems, but when parents are separated or divorced, these issues can become even more chaotic and complex.

As you know from our last blog post, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have decided to finally separate and call it quits. However, one odd thing still circling the media is how amicable the two are being as they continue to raise their family together after their divorce. Both Kim K and Kanye share joint custody, like with many divorced couples, and this process always seems “straight-forward” and amicable until, well – it isn’t. So how do celebrities, with all their fame and publicity, get through the nasty, not-so-fun parts of co-parenting? More importantly, how can we emulate that in our own lives, even though our divorce “faux pas” may not be published on the front page of Us Weekly? Today, we are going to discuss three value systems that I believe are the cornerstones for co-parenting, and how we can apply these skills to become even better leaders for our children.


While joint custody arrangements seem relatively simple, they are not always 50/50. That is because there are a lot of smaller concerns involved with co-parenting that do not get discussed: who will get the kids ready for school, missing out on your child’s Piano recitals, loneliness around the holidays, kids practicing favoritism, and other anxieties that often burden parents during these challenging times.

In a new interesting turn of events for the Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock divorce, a judge in Los Angeles County just awarded Clarkson primary physical custody of the former couple’s two children, River Rose, age 6, and Remington Alexander, age 4.

Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce from her husband of nearly seven years in June of this year, citing “irreconcilable difference.” Blackstock reportedly wanted the children to move back and forth between Blackstock’s family ranch in Montana, where he will be living, and Clarkson’s home in Los Angeles, where the children are currently residents. However, the court was not so willing to grant Blackstock’s request.

In the court order that ultimately ordered that Clarkson be awarded primary physical custody of the children, while both parents will have joint physical custody and joint legal custody, the judge found that “under the circumstances present in this case, the interest in providing stability and continuity for the minor children weighs in favor of [Clarkson] having primary custody.”[1] It is relatively common for the court to order that the primary custody be with one parent when one of the parents is moving away, especially in situations such as this one where the parties have an extremely difficult time co-parenting. Blackstock was still awarded weekend visits and a portion of holiday visits with the children, but the children will primarily live in California.[2]

On November 28, 2020, the Department of Public Health in Santa Clara County made the decision to issue a 14-day quarantine requirement for all persons entering Santa Clara County from travel of more than 150 miles away. The order went into effect on November 30, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and will remain in effect until at least December 21, 2020 at 5:00 a.m., unless the order is extended. Although, the Department of Public Health Directive did not specifically state whether children returning from a parent’s home that is 150 miles or more from the parent living in Santa Clara County are exempted from this requirement, the most recent update from the Department of Public Health, issued on December 2, 2020, provides that “Persons who are otherwise required to quarantine pursuant to this Directive may leave their household or place of quarantine to the extent necessary to comply with a court order or make an appearance in a court of law or administrative proceeding.” What this means is that if you and your child’s other parent live 150 miles or more away from one another and one of you lives outside of Santa Clara County, you are permitted to continue following the schedule set by your child custody and visitation order.

For example, let’s say you live in Santa Clara County but your child’s other parent lives in the city of Fresno, which is 150 miles from Santa Clara County. When your child returns to your home in Santa Clara County from their other parent’s home in Fresno, they will be required to quarantine for 14 days. If you have joint physical custody and your timeshare schedule, as set by your child custody and visitation order, gives you physical custody from Saturday at 8:00 PM to Wednesday drop-off at school, and gives your child’s other parent physical custody of your child from Wednesday pick-up from school till 8:00 PM Saturday night, then in order to comply with your child custody order your child would have to leave their place of quarantine before the 14 days are up. Under the most recent update from the Department of Public Health, this is completely permitted.

However, while your child is at your home in Santa Clara County, they will be required to stay at home at all times with very few exceptions. If you need to take your child to the doctor, hospital, or any other Healthcare Facility, the Public Health Directive allows your child to temporarily leave their place of quarantine. Of course, if your child starts to show symptoms at any time, get them tested immediately and if your child comes up positive for Covid-19, do your best to work with the other parent to agree to a temporary schedule change that accommodates the 14-day quarantine requirement.

Sharing a child or children between two households during the holidays can be particularly stressful in a normal year because everyone wants to be able to spend time with their family. However, this year is a little different due to COVID-19, not only because it may be months since someone has last seen their family members, but because of the risk that you or someone you love may contract the virus by spending time together during the holidays. Going to family members’ homes is strongly discouraged by public health authorities because close contact with other households and closed environments are known to facilitate secondary transmission of COVID-19.[1] Even with the risk, you and your child’s other parent may not agree about how to protect yourselves from the virus during the holidays, meaning that the other parent may be okay with taking your child to their family’s house for the holidays while you may not be.

Although you may disagree with your child’s other parent’s choice to put themself and your child at risk by going to a holiday event, it is very important that you abide by all current custody and visitation orders that you may have in place. Generally, each parent is permitted to travel during the holidays, regardless of whether the other parent agrees, unless the custody order specifically prohibits out-of-state travel or provides other restrictions. This means that if you prevent the other parent from taking your child during a holiday during which they have custody, you risk being held in contempt for violating the court order.

However, if one parent violates the state Public Health orders by congregating with more than three households or refuses to put masks on your children that are over two years of age while congregating with other households, it is possible to request a modification of the child custody order. In order to request a modification of the child custody and visitation order, there must have been a change in circumstances since the order was made. If one parent is willfully putting their child’s health at risk by taking them to public gatherings without taking any precautions or in direct violation of orders from the California Department of Public Health, and the orders were made prior to the Pandemic, such circumstances may be enough for the court to grant a modification. Note that doing so should not be done simply to harass one parent and stop them from seeing your child. If parents are taking proper precautions by following CDC guidelines[2] and the mandates[3] set forth by the local and state public health officers, then there is likely no justification to request a modification.

Quarantines and Custody Agreements: How Do Divorced and Separated Parents Handle Coronavirus?

Santa Clara County has been subject to a “Shelter in Place” order since March 17th.  This has prompted many of our clients to reach out an ask whether and/or how this will affect their custody arrangement.  This is a particularly tricky question for parents who live in different counties, or even states.

Divorce is never an easy task to get through, but most of us survive it and can even end up happier on the other side. Then the holiday season arrives. The holidays are hard to get through even in the most perfect circumstances, so how does one survive the holidays when newly divorced or still going through a divorce? It’s no easy task but the way you handle it will not only determine how enjoyable the holidays are for your children, but how much you enjoy yourself around the holidays as well (which is likely well deserved).

According to the article below, the overriding theme to remember during the holidays following your divorce is that “you do you.” Sure, it sounds cliché, but really, you have just come out of what most would argue was not an ideal marriage, so why not focus on your happiness for a change? Here are some tips on how to make your life easier during the holidays:

Most people agree that going through a divorce isn’t easy. Even despite best efforts to work together and remain amicable with a soon-to-be ex-spouse during and following a divorce, doing so sometimes proves trickier than people anticipate. Luckily, there are now have several useful apps that can make interacting with your ex-spouse a little easier as outlined in the USA Today article below:

7 Divorce Apps Help Navigate Life With Your Ex

OurFamilyWizard is an app that many parties with children use. OurFamilyWizard, sometimes referred to as OFW, has several features which parents find useful, the first of which is a secure message board for parents to communicate through. This is helpful if parents find communicating through other methods, such as texting, difficult. Some of the app’s other features include an interactive calendar which parents can use to schedule who has the kids on which days and what upcoming extra-curricular activities the children may be participating in. It also has an expense logto help track the children’s expenses so that one parent can easily reimburse the other. Parents can also upload receipts and invoices for these expenses, and for an added fee, even make payments within OurFamilyWizard.  The app also has the ability to store medical history, insurance information, emergency contact information, and school schedules. OurFamilyWizard costs $99 annually.

As part of their “Blended Family Friday “series, the Huffington Post ran the following article about two divorced parents and how they “co-parent” their child.

The article highlights just how important it is for parents to work together to raise their children, even after they are separated. Divorced or separated parents are often so angry at the other parent, that they cannot see past their issues with each other to really work together to figure out what is best for their children. When parents cannot agree on issues such as schooling, visitation schedule changes and even day-to-day parenting issues, they are left with little choice but to turn to their attorneys, requesting discussions with opposing counsel and/or the court’s intervention. This results in both parties incurring significant and often unnecessary, attorney fees and costs, and causes stress not only for the parents, but for the children as well. Ultimately, it results in a judge making a decision about children he or she has never met. Clearly, a child’s parents are better suited to be making such decisions.

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