How Is Child Custody Determined in California?

How Is Child Custody Determined in California?

When going through the process of divorce, some of the most difficult matters to address involve your children. In California, the court is focused on making the most informed, beneficial decision for you and your children. In most cases, this means that your child or children will continue having a relationship with both of their parents. The goal is to minimize the effects the divorce has on the child and to establish normalcy that was similar to what the child may have experienced before the divorce.

With more children in California having divorced parents than not, it is of the utmost importance to create as much unity between the parents as possible to foster a smooth transition. The process of determining child custody matters does not have to be complicated. However, it can become difficult if the parents are unruly. We understand that the safety and wellbeing of your children can bring about feelings of guilt, anxiety, and fear. The team at Khalaf Law Group will act accordingly to each individual case in order to help you understand California’s divorce laws. We will also work closely with you to simplify the process.

Understanding the Types of Child Custody in California

Child custody falls under very distinct categories. These categories detail matters such as finances, wellbeing, parental obligations, and more.

Understanding the differences between each category will make the child custody process easier. It is essential for helping you to understand how your arrangement will be determined and how it will progress in years to come.

Legal Custody

Legal Custody determines who is allowed to make important decisions for their child. This can involve which doctors they will see, where they will go to school, the child’s religious or spiritual association, and what extracurricular activities the child will be involved in.

Legal Custody can either be determined as joint legal custody or sole legal custody. In joint legal custody, both parents have equal say in making these decisions for their child. Alternatively, sole legal custody provides only one parent with the right to make decisions regarding their child’s welfare.

If parents cannot come to a mutual agreement on these decisions for their child, then the court will determine who will receive sole legal custody. This is to eliminate conflict and make the process smoother.

Sometimes, assigning one parent sole legal custody can worsen the relationship between the parents, creating more arguments and drama between them. Sole legal custody is often determined if one parent is not as available to make these decisions or is simply not capable of making these decisions.

Physical Custody

Physical custody can be awarded to one or both parents, and it is what determines where a child will live.

In some cases, physical custody is awarded to just one parent with sole physical custody, and the other parent is granted visitation rights to see their child. Depending on the circumstances, visitation rights may entail supervised visits for only a few hours. Alternatively, visitations could extend to include unsupervised visits on certain weekends, holidays, or family trips.

If one parent is given sole physical custody, this does not mean that they also have sole legal custody. In many cases, the court will award one parent with sole physical custody but grant both parents joint legal custody.

If the court decides to grant joint full custody, then the child can live with both parents. Oftentimes, this type of ruling will only be made if the parents decide to live close to one another. Living in two houses can be very difficult for a child. Since they will often travel back and forth between households, they may leave or forget something such as homework or sports equipment at the other house. Children may often feel unstable in this arrangement, which could be a factor that would determine against it.

In many situations, joint physical custody divides visitation time unequally. For example, one parent may have their child for the whole work week, but the other parent may have their child on the weekends. Holidays and vacations would then be divided accordingly.

What Would Determine a Sole Custody Agreement

As a parent, you can appeal for full custody. Keep in mind that this is not often a favorable decision for courts to make. If the court does rule for sole physical and legal custody, then one parent is solely responsible for making the decisions regarding their child’s welfare and upbringing. Oftentimes, sole custody is less common. This is because it is rarely seen as beneficial for the child since it will withdraw them from one of their parents. If this arrangement is made, factors that could influence the court to make this decision will often be in regard to the child’s safety.

In many instances, sole custody is only awarded if one parent is physically or mentally abusive, neglectful, or puts the child in any possible danger.

Other Contributing Factors That Determine Custody Agreements

Aside from obvious factors such as the health and safety of the child, the court also looks at other aspects to help inform their decision of custody agreements.

If parents can agree and make these decisions together, then the court will do its best to honor these prearranged agreements. However, if parents cannot agree, the court evaluates each individual case and makes decisions based on certain factors such as:

  • The age of the child
  • Health concerns
  • Who the child appears to be more emotionally attached to
  • The parents’ individual abilities to act as a caretaker for their child
  • How connected or involved the child is within their school and community
  • Previous history or current occurrence of substance abuse or physical violence

Khalaf Law Group Can Help

For years, the Khalaf Law group has been working alongside and negotiating with family members going through some of the hardest times of their lives. Divorce is never an easy process, and we understand that your children are your world. Our team cares about the best interests of your children. We are here to help you understand complicated legal matters and negotiate through this difficult process in order to find an arrangement that works best for you and your children.

If you are looking for more information on how to start the process, contact us today.

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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