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Your Legal Options for Child Custody in the State of California

Child custody is the legal relationship parents have with their children and it also describes which parent will have the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child. Child custody often becomes an issue in divorce cases, as it is common for parents to believe that the child will be better off with them as opposed to the other parent. When parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, litigation may be required and a family law court will need to decide on a plan that is in the best interests of the child.

Child Custody Orders That May Be Granted By a Judge

In child custody cases, a California family law court will always be guided by what is in the best interests of the child. Therefore, every legal custody order given will be on what is in the best interests of the child, not the parents.

A judge can grant one of two types of child custody orders:

Legal Custody Order

Legal custody orders assign one parent, or both, the right and responsibility to make important decisions on behalf of the child. This can include making decisions about where the child will go to school, what type of healthcare the child should receive, and how the child will be cared for.

There are two forms of legal custody orders, which are:

  1. Joint Legal Custody (California Family Code §3003) – Under this order, the parents have equal rights and responsibilities when it comes to making decisions about the child’s welfare, education, and health.
  2. Sole Legal Custody (California Family Code §3006) – This court order provides one parent the exclusive right and responsibility to make important decisions in relation to the child’s welfare, education, and health.

Physical Custody Orders

This order will designate who the child will reside with. There are three forms of physical custody orders, including:

  1. Joint Physical Custody (California Family Code §3004) – Both parents will be provided significant periods of time with the child.
  2. Sole Physical Custody (California Family Code §3007) – Here, the child will reside exclusively under the supervision of one parent. When only one parent is provided sole physical custody, the other parent will be granted visitation rights when it is in the best interests of the minor.
  3. Primary Physical Custody – For the most part, when a judge grants joint physical custody to both parents, it will be impossible for the child to spend his or her time equally between both parents. As a result, one parent will be granted primary physical custody.

Custody Orders are Designed to Follow the Best Interests of the Child

Making child custody arrangements is not an easy undertaking for family law judges. To make a decision, the judge will consider various matters regarding each individual parent.

When making a decision, the judge use the Statewide Uniform Guideline, which will consider the following: The age of the minor; The health of the minor; Each parent’s ability to care for the minor; The emotional relationship between the child and each individual parent; Whether either of the parents have a history of substance abuse; Whether either of the parents have a history of domestic violence; The child’s involvement in his or her community; Where the child attends school; And other matters that can affect a child’s well-being.

Contact the Support of a Seasoned Family Law Attorney

When facing child custody issues, it is critical to seek the legal support of an experienced family law attorney. Child custody disputes can be stressful and can become very costly. An experienced litigator will ensure your parental rights are upheld throughout the case.

For more than a decade, the experienced family law litigators at Milligan, Beswick, Levine, & Knox, LLP have helped parents facing complex child custody disputes. The firm is equipped with the right tools and resources to help you obtain the best possible outcome, protecting your parental rights and upholding your child’s best interests. Consider contacting the law firm today for a free case evaluation.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.