Child custody: things to consider in California
Child custody or visitation rights are one of the most stressful aspects of a divorce case and an experienced Carlsbad family attorney can help protect your rights as a parent. Divorce is an unfortunate fact of life for many people and it can be very difficult for children to understand what is going on when their parents aren’t together anymore. As a parent it is your obligation to make sure that your child remains safe, stable and happy.
In California, parents are allowed to come up with a custody plan if they can mutually agree on a schedule that is in the best interest of the child. The County of San Diego has a list of guidelines for child custody as well as counseling services when parents cannot agree on a custody plan. The courts will draft a plan for you if an agreement can’t be reached. A skilled family attorney can guide you through all of the steps you’ll need to take to protect your rights and your children.
There are two primary forms of custody in California
- Physical custody – a determination of which parent the child will be with and when. This also refers to day-to-day responsibilities that each parent has for the children.
- Legal custody – this form of custody determines which parent will have legal decision making power on behalf of the child. Generally this is shared between both parents. Decision making authority includes healthcare, education and other considerations that impact the welfare of the child.
It is common and desirable for both parents to have legal decision making power for the child and to share physical custody of the children as equally as possible. When you work with your lawyer and your ex spouse to come up with a custody plan there are numerous factors you will want to consider.
- Joint custody – this can refer to legal or physical custody. Under joint custody both parents have decision making power for the child and either or both parents have some physical custody with the child according to a determined schedule. Generally each parent will spend significant time with the children.
- Sole custody – this form of custody places legal and physical control of the child in the hands of only one parent.
- Grandparent’s rights – family is more than just the immediate parents and children. In many cases grandparents are important part of their grandchildren’s lives. They may also assert a right to visit with their grandchildren.
- Visitation – this refers to the designated amount of time that non-custodial parent will have responsibility for the child. That is, the right to spend time with your child even if you do not have legal or physical custody of the child. In some cases, visitation may be supervised.
The amount of time spent with each parent is one of the most common areas of disagreement between divorced parents. It is understandable that you would want to spend as much time with your children as possible. This is especially true during holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. An experienced child custody lawyer can help you avoid these conflicts and prevent them from occurring in the first place.