In a divorce or separation, it’s important to determine who will get custody of the child(ren). Keep reading to learn more about child custody in California, from some basic definitions to the criteria judges use to give custody.
What Is Child Custody?
Before we delve into the details of child custody in California, it’s important to understand some basic legal terms.
To begin with, “child custody” refers to the rights and responsibilities to make decisions about a child’s upbringing. As we’ll see in the next section, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.
The term “visitation,” on the other hand, refers to how each parent will spend time with the child. The parent who has the child less than half of the time has visitation.
Child Custody in California
As touched upon earlier, there are two types of custody. Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make decisions that impact the life of the child. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with.
Parents with legal custody make decisions that include:
- The school or daycare for the child
- The activities the child participates in (religion, sport, etc.)
- Travel and vacation
- Health needs and health services (except emergencies)
Both legal and physical custody can be either sole or joint. In the cases where a parent has sole legal custody, only that parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions that impact the life of the child. With joint legal custody, that right and responsibility is shared by both parents.
Similarly, in cases where a parent has sole physical custody, the child lives with that parent and visits the other. Joint physical custody means that the child lives with both parents.
How Are Custody and Visitation Determined?
California law doesn’t automatically give custody to the father or mother. The judge must make decisions according to the best interests of the child.
Several factors are considered when giving custody rights. Some of them include:
- The age of the child
- The emotional ties between parents and child
- The ability of the parents to care for the child
- The parents’ background
- The ties between the child and their community
At the Mitchell & Rivas Law Group, We Are Focused on You
Need help with a child custody case in California? At the Mitchell & Rivas Law Group, we offer a wide variety of professional and efficient services that go from preliminary legal advice to litigation and civil law for both corporate and private clients.
We are located at 3800 Orange Street Suite 150, Riverside, California. Contact us today by email (email@example.com), telephone (951-715-4695), or through our online form to learn more about our services. Hablamos español.