Divorce can be hard on your children and may completely change their lives. Your children’s normal schedules and daily routines can quickly become chaotic and unpredictable during the transition.
In California, child custody arrangements seek to find the best possible solution for your children. Sometimes this can mean limiting the amount of change they endure, such as transferring to a new school, moving between houses, or being removed from family members. Other times, change may be unavailable if it is in the child’s best interest to be removed from a situation that is unhealthy or harmful. Ultimately, child custody arrangements seek to benefit the children involved regardless of the parent’s ideal or preferred outcome.
Joint Legal Custody
In California, the most common custody arrangement is joint legal custody with sole physical custody. There are two different types of joint custody arrangements that parents may be given.
The first is legal custody. If parents are given joint legal custody, they equally share in the decision-making process regarding the health and welfare of their children. Parents who share joint legal custody must form a consensus on where their child will attend school, what religious groups or organizations their child will be involved with, where their child will receive medical care and treatment, and if their child will participate in sports or any extracurricular activities.
If the parents cannot mutually agree on these decisions, it is often up to the court to decide who will be given sole legal custody. The parent with sole custody will then be responsible for making these decisions for their child.
Joint Physical Custody
The second type of joint custody is joint physical custody. It is not as common for parents to be given joint physical custody because this may affect the day-to-day life of their children. When two parents are given joint physical custody, this means that their child will live with both of them. This does not always mean that their child will spend equal time between two houses. In many cases, it is best for the child to spend their school week with one parent and their weekends with another. Holidays and vacations are then divided between the parents.
The goal is for the parents to agree on the living situations of the children. However, it is important to note that even if the parents are able to come to an agreement on the custody of their children, the custody arrangement must be reviewed and approved by a judge.
Oftentimes, one parent is given sole physical custody. This means that their children will live with them full-time, and the other parent will receive visitation rights. Depending on the situation, visitation rights may be required to be supervised. However, most visitation rights are granted as unsupervised where the child may spend whole weekends, holidays, or school breaks with their other parent.
By allowing only one parent to have sole custody, children establish a better sense of routine. They do not have to constantly move back and forth, bringing their things to different houses and traveling as often. They are typically able to maintain more structured lives, which is often seen as more beneficial by the court.
Zero Parent Discrimination
California does not discriminate against parents. In many cases, it is assumed that the mother has a better chance of receiving full custody of their children than the father. However, each situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and determined solely on the best interests of the child. Some factors that may impact the outcome of this decision-making process may include the following:
- The age of the child
- The living preference of the child if they are 12 years of age or older
- The housing situation of each parent
- Each parent’s ability to care for their child
- The financial status of each parent
- How far away the parents are from one another
- Factors relating to the parents’ work, including their schedule, out-of-town travel, and possibly their field of work
How Joint Custody is Beneficial to Children
For about 60% of children in California, having divorced parents is a reality. Unlike in times past, the goal is to remove negative stigmas around living between two homes of divorced parents. Children shouldn’t feel ashamed because of their family’s situation. Instead, the focus should be to create environments in which children can lead normal lives and build healthy relationships regardless of their parents’ marital status. The best way to accomplish this best-case scenario is for a child to have both parents in their life.
However, this is not always possible in every situation. For some children, spending time with one of their parents could be a danger to them. This could often be the case for children who have been abused or neglected by a parent or who have a parent struggling with substance abuse or mental illness. In extreme cases such as these, sole custody may be the only way for the court to help a child out of a harmful situation.
If an extreme circumstance is not in play, it is best for a child to retain normalcy by having access to both of their parents.
Trust in Khalaf Law Group
For over a decade, Khalaf Law Group has assisted families through some of the most difficult challenges of their lives. Divorce is often heartbreaking, stressful, and emotionally intense. It can create permanent scars on families and damage relationships for years to come. No parent wants to see their child suffer or be put in the middle of an unfair situation.
The team at Khalaf Law Group dedicates our time and attention to your family, helping you navigate complex and confusing family court processes. Working with a law group that you can trust may help to ease some of your worries and stress during such a difficult time. We have represented families from all walks of life, and we are ready to assist and support you through all of your family law concerns. For more information or if you have any additional questions, contact us today.