California Child Custody
Child custody is the legal term that specifies where a child will live after their parents get divorced. There are many types of child custody arrangements. In some cases, parents come to an agreement themselves that is advantageous for all involved. Other times, they cannot come to such an agreement on their own for various reasons and the matter goes to court, where a judge will make a decision about a child’s custody.
California’s Best Interest Policy:
The most important factor in any child custody agreement is the “best interest of the child.“ This means the state has set up a standard that takes into account the child’s education, welfare, safety, health, and preferences when assigning custody. California allows the use of “discretion” in child custody cases. This enables the family court to have latitude when it comes to making a ruling in a child custody case.
Bonding is an Important Matter:
The emotional bonding between parent or parents and the child is taken into strong consideration when custody is being assigned. Bonding doesn’t only have to do with which parent spends more physical time with the child. It goes deeper than that to explore the closeness a child and parent has and how much attention said parent consistently gives a child. Other factors, such as a parent’s ability to provide financially for their child and many other issues are considered as well.
Types of Child Custody
There are several variations in child custody arrangements. Of course, this isn’t a one size fits all issue as there are many factors to consider. However, the following are the most common arrangements:
- Joint Physical Custody: Joint custody is when both parents have equal custody of the child. They usually split time 50-50, but that isn’t a requirement for joint physical custody. The law does state, though, that a child has to spend more than 35% of their time with a parent for them to have joint custody. Usually, parents work out an arrangement they both like and as long as the child spends significant time with each parent, it is considered joint physical custody. Not only does joint custody give fairly equal time to each parent, it also allows each parent to have equal say when it comes to making decisions affecting their child. These types of decisions could include but are not limited to those regarding the child’s medical needs, overall health, education, extracurricular activities and any other decision that will affect the child’s life. The simplest way to explain what joint physical custody means is to consider it co-parenting. Although they aren’t married, joint custody allows parents to function much the same way they did before they got divorced. Each parent is equally responsible and available to the child. This arrangement makes moving out-of-state problematic. It takes coordination and agreement between both parents in order for a move to occur.
- Sole Physical and Legal Custody: California also refers to sole physical custody as primary physical custody. Sole legal and physical custody gives the control of the child’s school enrollment, housing arrangement, medical and dental appointments, vacation and holiday plans and after school care to just one parent. This means the parent with sole legal custody does not have to consult the other parent when making decisions for their child. They can also move out-of-state in many cases, without having to get permission from the other parent.
- Combination: Sometimes a judge will provide a combination of both types of custody to create an ideal situation for a child. California Legislature promotes joint physical and legal custody. The state also supports each parent retaining their custodial rights. This arrangement ensures the child spends time with each parent and allows both parents to be involved in their child’s life. This situation doesn’t work well in all cases, though. For example, when one parent is the primary caregiver and supporter and the other doesn’t want to be as involved. These cases are the most challenging. Of course, even when parents agree on custody, sometimes, legally there are issues that need to be resolved. Therefore, it’s a good idea to acquire legal counsel when seeking custody of a child.
Visitation Rights When Sole Physical Custody is Awarded
When sole custody is awarded to one parent, visitation rights are often given to the other parent. These visitations can be a set amount of hours a child should spend with the noncustodial parent in a week’s time. In some cases, the visits are supervised. In addition, grandparents who are involved with a child will occasionally seek visitation rights as well.
If you or someone you love are facing issues surrounding the custody of a child, contact us today. Our legal experts are ready to help you traverse this legal issue and ensure your child is in the best situation possible.