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What Are Writs, and How Do They Work in a Child Custody Case?

Whether you are facing a divorce, separation, or other family law case, you must determine child custody and the rights and responsibilities of each parent relative to their children. While both parents may think they know what is best for their child, they may not agree on what that arrangement looks like, leading to litigation over child custody.

Judges often issue prejudgment, ex parte, or temporary child custody orders while the case is pending. Fortunately, if you disagree with those orders and cannot resolve them with the trial court, you do have some legal recourse in the form of filing a writ with a Court of Appeal. If you are facing this situation, having the support of a California child custody attorney from Evans Kingsbury LLP throughout the process of filing a writ is crucial.

When You Might File a Writ

Under California law, you can directly appeal certain final family law orders. However, appeals are lengthy proceedings that are not ideal for handling emergency and time-sensitive situations like child custody. Therefore, if you have an emergency situation concerning an order that is not final, your remedy is likely to file a writ rather than an appeal. A writ is an expedited request for review by an appellate court when something has gone wrong at the trial court level that you cannot otherwise remedy.

You can challenge a child custody order that is not directly appealable by filing a petition for writ. Generally, a writ is available only when there is no other speedy and adequate remedy at law to correct the situation.

In rare circumstances, you may be able to file a writ instead of directly appealing a final court order. The only circumstances in which filing a writ would be proper are if an extraordinary situation made appellate relief impractical, based on the circumstances. If you have an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, such as via an appeal, then filing a writ would be inappropriate.

Writs and Child Custody Cases

As a result, filing a writ in a child custody case would be appropriate when a court has issued a prejudgment or temporary order on custody. It also would be appropriate to file a petition for writ when a judge issues an ex parte custody order or an emergency custody order without a hearing or notice to you.

In child custody cases, writs can be particularly important. The reality is that as a child spends more time with a custodial parent, the bond between the child and parent grows. As time goes on and the child develops a stable routine and stronger bond with that parent, it becomes more likely that the court will find it necessary to preserve that bond and make the order permanent. Therefore, correcting a temporary child custody order quickly can be essential to the outcome of a child custody case.

Getting a Decision on a Writ in a Child Custody Case

In an appeal, it can take you a year or more to get a decision from the appellate court. You also will receive a written decision from the appellate court in writing, which is a requirement in every appeal.

On the other hand, you can receive a decision on your writ in a matter of hours in some cases. However, relief on a writ is completely discretionary, meaning that it is completely up to a Court of Appeal to grant your request for relief. Even if a trial court’s decision is incorrect, the appellate court may choose not to grant immediate writ review. Instead, a Court of Appeal may leave review for an appeal of the final judgment. Furthermore, you may or may not receive an explanation as to why the appellate court denied your petition for a writ.

Call the Child Custody Lawyers at Evans Kingsbury LLP Today

Child custody cases are among the most stressful and emotional cases that you can face. However, having an experienced California child custody lawyer on your side can make your family law case much less stressful. Contact Evans Kingsbury LLP today by calling (707) 596-6090 or visiting us online and learning more about how we can assist you with your family law case.

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