Child custody in California refers to the allocation of decision making authority and parenting. There are several factors and laws that determine the fair division of a child’s time between parents, all predicated on the needs of their children. As you navigate the divorce process, it will be crucial not only to understand how child custody is determined but also to ensure that you have a dedicated LA divorce lawyer at your side. A divorce lawyer will go beyond simply providing you with the information you need to understand child custody arrangements and will advocate for you, your children, and the most advantageous results after a divorce.
The state of California recognizes both legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the legal right to make decisions about your child’s life, such as where the child will go to school, the religion in which the child will be raised, to where the child is allowed to travel, and medical decisions regarding the child’s health. Physical custody is the right to spend time with your child, thereby being responsible for providing for the child’s health, safety, clothing, shelter, food, and other aspects of their well-being.
Both types of child custody are considered joint or sole custody arrangements. A sole custody order means that one parent is solely responsible for the care of his or her child. A joint custody order holds that both parents will be responsible for the care of their child. A common arrangement is one in which both parents have legal decision-making power regarding a child, but only one parent has physical custody. In other situations, parents will share both legal and physical custody, or a parent may be awarded sole physical and legal custody under extenuating circumstances.
Courts in California urge parents to work together to form a parenting plan without the intervention of the court. While establishing such a plan incorporates many complicated factors, especially in a contested divorce, methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, can be employed to help parties reach a solution.
If the two parties cannot reach an agreement on their own, they must turn to the courts in a child custody hearing. If a court is tasked with making a determination about legal and physical custody of a child, it will do so based on the best interests of the child. Factors the court considers in determining the best interests, as found in California Family Code Section 3011 include:
If you are involved in a child custody determination suit, working with a skilled family law attorney who can advise you regarding your rights and your options is highly recommended. This is especially true if you and the child’s other parent cannot reach an agreement outside of court. As an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney, I have the expertise and commitment that you need to navigate your child custody order and can assist you throughout all stages of the child custody determination process. For your initial consultation, please call me today.