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Understanding Child Custody Laws in California

Understanding Child Custody Laws in California

Date: Jan 28, 2022
In: Child Custody & Visitation

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Understanding Child Custody Laws in California

Child custody concerns are some of the most difficult that family law addresses, and if you have a child custody case, having a better understanding of child custody laws in California can help. Because – when it comes to child custody – the issue is too important to leave to chance, working closely with an experienced California child custody attorney is in your and your child’s best interest.

How Is Custody Determined?

In the State of California, either parent can have sole custody of the children, or both parents can share custody. If you and your children’s other parent are able to negotiate a parenting plan you both find acceptable, the court is very likely to incorporate this plan into your custody terms. If not, however, you’ll need the court to intervene on your behalf regarding the matter.

Legal Custody

California addresses both legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody concerns itself with who will be making the primary parenting decisions on behalf of your children. This can be either sole (one of you makes these major decisions on your own) or joint (you share this decision-making authority). The kinds of decisions involved include:

  • Your children’s schooling and/or childcare
  • Your children’s physical and mental healthcare needs (other than in emergency situations)
  • Your children’s residence
  • Your children’s extracurricular activities, including vacations
  • Your children’s travel

If you have sole legal custody, you have the authority to make these primary decisions on your own, but to avoid conflict and to demonstrate your respect for one another’s importance as a co-parent, communication and cooperation with the other parent are well advised.

Physical Custody

Physical custody concerns itself with how both parents divide their time with their children. Sole custody refers to when children spend the majority of their time with one parent while the other parent has what is called a parenting time (or visitation) schedule. When parents have joint physical custody, it does not necessarily mean that the children divide their time exactly evenly between both parents (usually due to scheduling challenges). The parent who has the kids more than half the time is often referred to as the primary custodial parent.

Custody Determinations

In some instances, parents are granted joint legal custody, which means they make the important parenting decisions together, while only one parent has sole physical custody. In these circumstances, the parent who does not have physical custody generally has a visitation schedule.

Visitation schedules are classified in the following ways:

  • Visitation according to a predetermined, detailed schedule
  • Reasonable visitation, which allows parents who get along well to work out their schedules as they go
  • Supervised visitation, which ensures that visits with the parent who has the visitation schedule are supervised by another adult
  • No visitation, which is reserved for exceptional circumstances

An Experienced California Child Custody Attorney Can Help

If you have a child custody concern, the accomplished California child custody attorneys at Miranda, Magden & Miranda, LLP, are well positioned and well prepared to help. Your case is important, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information today.

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