Child Custody Issues in the Schools

Articles by Carina Castañeda 24 August 2014

Some custody basics are joint legal custody means that both parents shall share the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child. Joint physical custody means that each of the parents shall have significant periods of physical custody and in a manner to assure that a child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents.

Joint custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the minor child. In making an order of joint legal custody, the court shall specify the circumstances under which the consent of both parents is required and the consequences of the failure to obtain mutual consent. In all other circumstances, either parent acting alone may exercise legal control of the child.

Sole legal custody means that one parent shall have the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child. Sole physical custody means that a child shall reside with and be under the supervision of one parent, subject to the power of the court to order visitation.

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Child Visitation Law

Articles 11 August 2014

In making a child custody order between parents, the court must also grant the other (noncustodial parent) “reasonable visitation rights” unless it is shown that visitation would be “detrimental to the best interest of the child” [CA. Family Code (FC) § 3100(a)]

Because of the importance placed on “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents, an order withholding a parent’s visitation privileges can only be issued upon a finding that any form of visitation would be detrimental to the child. 

The court has broad discretion in defining a parent’s “reasonable visitation” rights and establishing a visitation schedule. Subject to a few statutory limitations, the basic tenet is the child’s best interest.

In all cases, the clear policy is to assure the child’s health, safety and welfare and to the extent possible for “frequent and continuing contact with both parents.” The continuing contact can be restrained by looking at factors cited in CA. FC 3011. Aside from this, the court considers the practical facts of the case, child’s age, maturity, special needs, the parent’s proximity to the each other and if appropriate, the child’s preference.

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Orders Enforceable by Contempt in Divorce Proceedings

Articles 14 July 2014

To hold a person in contempt, the order must be in writing and must also be definitive; otherwise it lacks the certainty required to punish through a proceeding regarded as criminal or quasi criminal. What is “contempt of court?” When a party is ordered to do something and fails to do it, the other party can file a Contempt of Court Order to Show Cause. 

The Judge then determines if the party is in contempt of a court order. If a party is found in contempt, the Judge will sentence as appropriate. The punishment can include, fine, community service and imprisonment. The “accused” is afforded constitutional guarantees, including the right to remain silent and a right to a jury trial.  

However, the federal right to a jury trial applies if the court punishes multiple charges of civil contempt with a jail term longer than six months. Thus, if the court is empowered with the option of imposing a sentence longer than six months, it must permit the defendant to have a trial by jury.

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U.S. Supreme Court: Search Warrant Needed to Search Cell Phones

Articles 29 June 2014

The U.S. Supreme court decided the question whether law enforcement officers can search a cell phones without a warrant after an arrest, as they can with address books and wallets? I wrote an article about this case and here is a brief synopsis of the facts of the case. 

On January 21, 2014, The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Navarette v. California  to decide the following issue: “Does the Fourth Amendment (right against unreasonable search and seizure), require an officer who receives an anonymous tip regarding a drunk or reckless driver to corroborate dangerous driving before stopping the vehicle?” 

This California case involved a Mendocino County 911 dispatcher in August 2008 who received a call from another county dispatcher reporting that a silver Ford truck had run another car off the road. The car occupants had anonymously reported that the truck ran them off the road. A police officer saw the truck, pulled it over, searched it, and found four large bags of marijuana and arrested Jose and Lorenzo Navarette for marijuana transportation, possession, and sale. 

The Navarettes filed a motion to suppress evidence of the marijuana, arguing that the anonymous tip was not sufficient to justify the stop because the officer did not independently corroborated the alleged illegal activity (reckless driving). The magistrate denied the motion, and on the appeal, the California Court of Appeal held that the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.  

The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether an anonymous tip must be corroborated in order to create a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.  In a landmark decision issued on June 25, 2014, a unanimous court clarified long-standing questions about constitutional protections in the computer age. This decision potentially shifted the debate over cyber-rights in the modern society. 

Chief Justice John Roberts reasoned that except in extraordinary circumstances such as child abduction or a ticking time bomb, the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable search and seizures required police officers to get a warrant prior to examining a cell phone after an arrest. The normally restrained Justice Roberts broadened the idea of privacy in that he states the difference between a wallet and a cell phone is as great as that between “a ride on a horseback” and “a flight to the moon.” 

The mini-computers we carry in our pockets can collect in one place “the sum of an individual’s private life,” Roberts wrote, and now clearly we have a greater expectation of privacy. The fact that new technology makes private life portable makes it no “less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.” By invoking the vision of the founders of the country clearly shows the Justices embraced the strong vision of digital privacy.

As we all know and more of our personal and private lives become “portable,” the issue of whether the Fourth Amendment protections will continue to be potent tools against intrusion remains.  The lower courts are now considering whether data collection by the National Security agency violates privacy protections.  While this case addresses only Fourth Amendment which applies to government searches, this ruling sets the tone for coming legal battles over commercial and workplace privacy issues.

Any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at 310-601-7144 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Child Visitation Law

Articles 23 June 2014

In making a child custody order between parents, the court must also grant the other (noncustodial parent) “reasonable visitation rights” unless it is shown that visitation would be “detrimental to the best interest of the child” [CA. Family Code (FC) § 3100(a)] 

Because of the importance placed on “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents, an order withholding a parent’s visitation privileges can only be issued upon a finding that any form of visitation would be detrimental to the child.

The court has broad discretion in defining a parent’s “reasonable visitation” rights and establishing a visitation schedule. Subject to a few statutory limitations, the basic tenet is the child’s best interest.

Read more...

Media Appearances

Atty. Castañeda: Visionary, Leader and Pioneer

As the high school student body president, Atty. Castañeda was eager to pursue leadership roles on a bigger scale. At University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she was active in university politics, various organizations such as Samahang Pilipino and a national sorority. She graduated with honors in both History and Philosophy.

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