California Child Custody Basics

child custody lawyersSeparation and divorce are always more difficult when there are children involved. Although some basic child custody and family law issues are handled consistently across all states due to the federal Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement act, custody laws can vary significantly by state. Child custody laws in California are determined by the California Family Code, Division 8 §3000-3465.

Different Types of Child Custody in California

There are two types of child custody in California: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the child’s living arrangements (who the child stays with most of the time). Legal custody is the authority to make legal and other important decisions for the child, including health care, education, religion, travel, lifestyle, and other important decisions. The two types of custody often, but not always, go hand in hand. It is common for one parent to be granted sole physical custody, while both parents are allowed legal custody of the child.

Sole custody (also called primary custody) is when only one parent is granted custody rights, and the other parent is given visitation rights. Joint custody means the parents share custody rights relatively equally. Unlike in some other states, joint custody arrangements are supported and encouraged in California.

Visitation Rights in California

Unless the court is convinced it would be harmful to the child for you to remain in her life, every parent has a right to spend time with his children. A judge may even order supervised visitation to ensure the parent and child can safely have a relationship. Visitation schedules can be ordered by a judge, or agreed upon in a parenting plan, as long as it is in the best interest of the child. The amount of time a child spends with the noncustodial parent will affect the amount of child support owed.

How Child Custody Is Decided in California

Child custody cases are always decided based on what is in the best interest of the child. The family courts in California decide this by looking at the following factors:

  • the age and physical and emotional health of the child
  • the relationship between the child and each of his parents
  • each parent’s ability to care for the child
  • the child’s ties to his school, neighborhood, and community

Courts do not take into consideration the parents’ gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or physical disability when determining what custody arrangements are in the best interest of the child. If neither parent is able to provide a safe and nurturing home for the child, the judge may grant guardianship to a third party, like a grandparent or other family member.

Orange County CA Child Custody Lawyers

If you are anticipating, or already involved in, a difficult child custody battle, the experienced child custody attorneys at R & S Law Group, LLP are here to help. We can help protect your parental rights and interests to ensure the best possible outcome in your case. Contact our office in Orange, California today to request a free consultation.