Child Custody

Child Custody

Determining where a child should live during and after a divorce is one of the most difficult decisions you make throughout your entire life. When determining where a child should live and how often the child should see each parent, the California courts look at a number of factors and ultimately focus on what is in the best interests of the child. At Miranda, Magden & Miranda, we have helped many clients navigate the complicated issue of child custody and build the best possible best-interest argument for sole or joint custody of their child after a divorce.

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California Child Custody Types

California courts can allocate child custody between parents in a number of ways. There are two types of custody: Legal and Physical. Sole legal custody of the child means that one parent is given full authority to make decisions for the child, including decisions about the child’s health, education, religion, living and travel, and everyday life. Joint legal custody gives both parents the right to make important decisions on behalf of their child.

Physical custody describes where the child lives. The court may grant one parent sole physical custody of the child, which is when the child lives with only one parent but normally has visitation times with the other parent. Joint physical custody is where the child spends time living with both parents on a regular basis.

Factors Considered For Child Custody

The judge in a child custody hearing will consider a number of factors when determining custody of a child, but ultimately the decision comes down to what is in the best interests of the child. Factors considered include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Health, safety, and welfare of the child
  • Any history of abuse
  • Nature and amount of contact with both parents
  • Any parental use of controlled substances
  • Age and health of the child
  • Emotional ties between parent and child
  • The ability of each parent to care for their child physically, emotionally, and financially
  • The child’s ties to school, home, and their community

The court may consider the wishes of the child, but their desire to live with one parent or the other is not binding on the court. Typically, the court will hear from the child if they are 14 years old or older. Children younger than 14 are sometimes heard in court, but more often the judge relies on the statutory factors when determining with whom the child should live. An experienced family law attorney can help you reach a reasonable decision with your co-parent, and if that is not possible, help you prepare for a child custody hearing by presenting the best possible best-interest argument for sole or joint custody of your child.


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