Irrespective of whether one is in a dissolution action or a paternity action, there is no more contested subject in Family Court than child custody. With a myriad of fact patterns available to the courts in a plethora of cases, there is a wide range of potential orders. The long- standing policy of the state is that both parents should have frequent and regular contact with their children. In the absence of an out of Court agreement, it is important to know that the court will make the final decision about your child custody case but will usually approve any parent agreements regarding child custody. When looking at child custody in California, it is important to understand the basics, as discussed below.
Types of Child Custody
There are two kinds of child custody.
♦ Legal custody: Having the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child.
Common decisions parents with legal custody make:
-School or childcare
-Religious activities or institutions
-Psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy needs
-Doctor, dentist, orthodontist, or other health professionals (except in an emergency)
-Sports, summer camp, vacation, or extracurricular activities
-Residence (where the children will live)
♦ Physical Custody: Who your children live with.
Physical custody can be:
Joint: Children live with both parents.
Sole/Primary: Children live with one parent most of the time and have visitation with the other parent.
California courts will always base their decisions regarding child custody on what is in the best interest of the child. Sometimes, a court will grant parents joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody. This means that both parents will share in the responsibility of making decisions in their children’s lives, but the children will reside with only one of the parents most of the time. The parent who has no physical custody will usually have visitation rights with their children.
The law says that the courts must give custody according to what is in the “best interest of the child.”
The court will consider:
-The age of the child.
-The health of the child.
-The emotional ties between the parents and the child.
-The ability of the parents to care for the child.
-Any history of family violence or substance abuse.
-The child’s ties to school, home, and his or her community.
Are you looking for an experienced family law attorney to represent you in your child custody case? Contact us Sunnen Law today at 619-255-9551 and speak with our knowledgeable and compassionate, but also tough when necessary Attorney Christopher Sunnen who will provide you with exceptional legal representation. Our goal is to always empower clients to make informed decisions about their future. We represent clients throughout San Diego County, including Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Escondido, Del Mar, La Jolla, Chula Vista, and El Cajon.