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Types of Child Custody in California
There are two different types of child custody: Legal and physical.
Legal custody involves making important decisions for your child about medical issues, schooling enrollment, extracurricular activities, and religious studies.
There are two kinds of legal custody:
- Sole legal custody: If you have sole legal custody, you and only you are in charge of making these decisions for your child.
- Joint legal custody: Parents sharing joint legal custody both have a say in these issues.
With physical custody, courts will generally assign one parent as the primary physical custodian, even if the parents share joint legal custody. The primary physical custodian will be the “custodial” parent for the purposes of child support. When one parent is the primary physical custodian, their home will be the main address of the child for schooling purposes. The other parent who is not the primary physical custodian will receive parenting time or visitation rights.
An Irvine child custody attorney at our firm can help you understand your rights in both cases and help you negotiate a fair agreement that is in the best interests of you and your child. You will have a greater chance of the court ruling in your favor by providing strong evidence that proves the custody agreement is in the best interest of the child, especially if the dispute involves proving your former spouse is an unfit parent.
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How Do California Family Law Courts Decide Which Parent Gets Child Custody?
Courts order custody in the best interest of the child. The child’s welfare, health, and safety are the most important concerns for everyone during child custody cases. The court will also consider which parent best demonstrates a willingness to maintain frequent and ongoing interaction with the other parent.
Other considerations include:
- Whether one parent has a history of drug use, domestic violence, or other criminal behavior
- Whether one parent makes an effort to keep the other parent from seeing the child or “bad mouths” the other parent in front of the child
- Whether one parent can provide a more stable environment than the other
- If a child has sufficient maturity to decide which parent they would like to stay with, the courts may consider the child’s wishes, but that will not necessarily be the deciding factor.
Even if both parents can settle on a custody agreement before entering the courtroom, the court will still need to approve it. However, in most cases, the court will enter an agreement if it reflects the child’s best interests.
If there is a dispute regarding custody rights, you and your former spouse may be required to attend divorce mediation to determine a temporary custody plan. Keep in mind that these temporary plans often become permanent, which is why your lawyer should attend the mediated sessions with you to uphold your interests.
Schedule a free consultation with our experienced Irvine child custody lawyers to ask us any questions you have.
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