California Family Code 3691

California Family Code 3691

California Family Code 3691 addresses child custody and parental visitation rights. This law aims to eliminate disputes and limitations that affect the well-being of children amid custody decisions and family court. To learn how this law applies explicitly to your family, consult with a California family lawyer experienced in child custody.

The interest of a child is the primary consideration for courts when making decisions on child custody and parenting plan arrangements. That means family court strives to formulate custody plans for parents that optimize a child’s mental and physical safety and welfare, as well as encourage frequent and prolonged interaction with both parents that nurtures long-term relationships when appropriate.

Factors Considered in Custody Decisions

When making a court-ordered decision on child custody, certain things are considered more than others because of the influential and profound impact they have on the well-being of a child. These paramount considerations include:

  • The child’s age
  • The health of the child
  • The emotional health of the child
  • Both parents’ ability to provide a stable and safe environment for the child and provide for the child’s needs
  • The existing relationship the child has with both parents, as well as the extended family of both parents
  • Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence of either parent
  • Depending on the age of the child and the child’s maturity level, the child’s preference may be considered

Different Types of Child Custody in California

California Family Code 3691 defines types of child custody arrangements that a family court judge can structure custody arrangements from. By delineating these different types of custody arrangements, all child custody cases are streamlined, and child custody decisions made by family courts are ensured to benefit the well-being of the child:

  • Sole legal custody. Sole legal custody means one parent has primary legal control of the child and takes full responsibility for making decisions for the child, including decisions on education, religion, location, medical and mental health, and any other essential areas.
  • Joint legal custody. Joint legal custody of a child refers to both parents sharing the legal responsibility of making important decisions on behalf of their child regarding education, upbringing, extracurricular activities, mental and physical healthcare, and religious practices. When parents share joint legal custody, they are both actively involved in making decisions for their child.
  • Physical custody. When a parent has physical custody of a child, it means a child has the right to live in the house with that parent. In most circumstances, a child solely lives with one parent, referred to as the physical custodial parent, and the non-custodial parent may be granted visitation rights per a set schedule outlined in the court order when appropriate.

While custodial parents may allow additional visitation time with the non-custodial parent, they are only required to facilitate visitation according to the predetermined parenting schedule outlined in the custody order. Failure to allow visitation with a non-custodial parent and the child, according to the court-ordered schedule, would, however, put the custodial parent in contempt of court.

Physical custody can be sole or joint. With joint physical custody, it doesn’t necessarily mean both parents have equal time with a child. Rather, the child may split their time between living with both parents in two residences according to the family’s schedule. Joint custody ensures both parents stay actively involved in their child’s life, as well as in decision-making. Joint custody is almost always preferred by California family courts.

Sole custody is rarely awarded when joint custody is an option due to the importance the court puts on both parents being in the child’s life. Sole custody is typically awarded only if it is necessary for the child’s safety, if the parents can’t co-parent amicably, or if one parent is deemed unfit.

There are also cases in which a household has multiple children, and the court sees it necessary to split custody of children between parents. In other words, the court will divide custody of individual children, with each parent having at least one child under their custodial care. Typically, the courts only opt for this choice when it is beneficial to the interests of one or more children.

If you are unsure which type of custody would work in your family’s ideal situation, talk to a California family lawyer.


Q: What Is the New Child Support Law 2023 in California?

A: The new 2023 child support law in California is an update to the former method of calculating child support payments. The new calculation method emphasizes the importance of both parents contributing equally to their child’s needs, whether those be financial needs, quality time spent, or other needs, rather than putting all the financial weight on one parent and other non-economic needs of the child on the other parent.

Q: What Is the Parent Support Law in California?

A: Both California and federal law state that both parents must provide financial support to their children, and it is their legal duty to do so. When both parents share equally in the standard of living for their children, the well-being of the child is upheld. Consequently, in most child support, child custody, and divorce cases in California, the court will order one or even both parents to pay child support.

Q: How Do I Avoid Paying Child Support in California?

A: If you wish to request a court order to no longer be required to pay child support, you must file a request, called a motion, with the court to end child support payments. In some regions of California, if a local child support agency handles your case, you may be able to end child support through that local agency without having to go through the courts.

Q: How Do You Set Aside an Order in California?

A: To request a court to “set aside” or cancel a judgment or court order already in existence, the requester must file a “request for order to set aside.” This is also called a “motion to set aside” or “motion to vacate.” It is advised to enlist the support of a California family lawyer when filing these motions to ensure they are done properly. Otherwise, they risk being dismissed prematurely.

Find Out More From Khalaf Law Group

In many cases, allowing a child to have contact with both parents is ideal. Contact Khalaf Law Group if you have questions regarding California Family Code 3691 or if you need legal services from an experienced and qualified California family lawyer.

About Ted Khalaf

As you maneuver the difficult process of divorce and custody, it is essential that you are supported by a team of legal experts well versed in California specific Divorce and Family Law. For well over a decade, Khalaf Law Group have been serving clients across Southern California in all areas of Divorce and Family Law. With an exceptional track record of courtroom successes, Khalaf Law Group take great pride in providing their valued clients with the knowledge and information they require to maintain peace of mind and a positive outcome in their case.

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