California child custody laws are determined by what is in the best interest of the child. This means that when parents fight over who gets more time with the kid, the Judge will decide based on what is the best living situation for the child. This does not automatically mean that the mother is going to have majority time with the child. Below I have outlined some basic terms that I will write about more in future posts.
Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody is an arrangement where both parents have equal say in determining important schedules for children such as school, healthcare, and counseling.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody is an arrangement where both parents are allowed significant visitation with the child. These arrangements can include one parent having custody of the child during the week with the other parent having custody during weekends or alternating weekends. Courts like to see parents cooperate and dislike seeing one parent who interfering with the other’s visitation schedule. It is always important to abide by the court order.
Courts sometimes order what may look at first glance like an “uneven” custody arrangement. This can be seen in 70/30 arrangements where one parent has the child during the week and the other parent only has visitation on alternating weekends. The parent that has the majority of the custody time is called the “custodial” parent and the other parent is called the “non-custodial” parent. This situations often see a reversal during the summer, where the non-custodial parent will start to have majority custody time and the custodial parent will suddenly have weekends or alternating weekends. It is always the responsibility of the custodial parent to promote the visitation of the children with the non-custodial parent.
Each custodial situation is determined on a case-by-case basis. Courts will always do what is in the best interest in the child. Contact your child custody attorney to find out what would be in the best interest of your child in your custody situation.
Sole Legal or Physical Custody
Sole Legal or physical custody is where only one parent has physical custody of the child or controls the important decisions in the child’s life. These arrangements are not common. Only in cases of physical abuse, neglect, or significant substance abuse will sole legal or physical custody be granted to one parent.
If there is an already existing court ordered custody schedule in place, both parents must abide by it. If one parent wants to significantly change the arrangement where there will be a change of custodial time or decision-making, the court only allows this if the parent can show changed circumstances. Oftentimes abuse, neglect, or one parent’s continual refusal to abide by the court order may be enough to show changed circumstances.
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