Child Custody and California Law

“Child custody” isn’t something most of us know much about until divorce is imminent. Then, every parent is anxious to find out what their rights are in terms of the custody of their children. The simple answer is that according to California child custody laws, the parent(s) with custody has legal responsibilities and custodial rights toward their children. And, custody is usually awarded to natural parents in either a joint custody manner or a sole custody manner, whichever situation serves the best interests of the child in question.

Joint custody, if parents are not actively fighting, is the ideal child custody situation as it allows both parents to contribute to a child’s upbringing without the child’s feelings of loyalty being torn between parents. Joint custody means that both parents are considered to be equal legal custodians of the child with all the legal responsibilities that goes along with that role. Some joint-custody arrangements are made so that a child spends approximately equal amounts of time with both parents, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Joint custody doesn’t dictate that a child must alternate between households either. Many times in a joint custody situation, the child lives primarily in one location and visits with the other parent, with parents making decisions concerning the child jointly.

Legal Custody and Physical Custody

And, to put another wrinkle in this child custody issue, parents also may divide up or combine legal custody and physical custody. Legal child custody gives a parent(s) the right to make the decisions about a child’s health, religion, education, care, in addition to other important matters. Physical custody simply dictates where a child lives, his/her residence and where he/she receives routine daily care. For the most part, in an amicable child custody arrangement, one parent is sometimes granted physical custody, while both parents retain legal custody.

But, what about the parent who doesn’t have the child living in his/her home? Unless some form of abuse is present in the original household, the non-custodial parent (the person without child custody) is granted visitation rights by California law. This gives the non-custodial parent opportunities to spend time with their children at agreed-upon times and under agreed-upon circumstances.

Child Custody Evaluations

Under certain circumstances, parents may be required by the court to undergo a child custody evaluation. A neutral professional is mandated to evaluated both parents individually as well as the children and prepare an evaluation report. While it isn’t necessary to have formal psychological tests administered during this evaluation process, if the circumstance of your situation warrants such an investigation, you must participate. The main goal of a child custody evaluation is to determine what custody situation is in the best interests of your children. A typical comprehensive child custody evaluation will usually involve the evaluator checking out the parents, the guardians and the children involved in the divorce to observe interactions between the children and each of the various family members who will be entrusted with the care of the children and report back to the court with a recommendation of custody and visitation parameters.

A California Child Custody Attorney Can Guide You Through Child Custody Law Requirements

Child custody issues are never easy. Even when parents come to a workable agreement about child care after a divorce, the emotional and financial toll on children can be devastating. And should the California court system have to intervene to determine child custody, you may be in for a lot of paperwork and a lot of stringent guidelines you must adhere to. California child custody cases can be confusing, difficult, complex and frustrating. Having the support of Bethanie Fanti an experienced, qualified California child custody attorney to guide you through your child custody battle can make the ordeal a bit easier for you and your children.

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