Child Custody

This refers to rights regarding a child. There are two different types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. For legal custody, there are different variations of custody, sole custody and joint custody. The most common form of custody is Joint Legal Custody. With Joint Legal Custody, both parents make the decisions on behalf of the children concerning health, education, religion, and general welfare.

Physical custody is often pursuant to a co-parenting plan, and can take a variety of forms or schedule, depending on the needs of each family. Physical custody refers to where the child lives on a regular basis. Generally, the parent the child does not live with will be allowed to have regular time with the child. The standard for deciding physical custody is “best interest of the child.” Parents can make any custodial arrangement in the best interest of their children.

California will usually award joint physical custody to both parents when the child spends significant amounts of time with both parents. Joint physical custody works best if parents live relatively near to each other, as it lessens the stress of children and allows them to maintain a somewhat normal routine. Where the child lives primarily with one parent and has visitation with the other, the parent whom the child primarily lives will generally have primary physical custody, and the other parent will be assigned specific custodial time periods.

If parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, there is a contested custody hearing. See CUSTODY BATTLE.