The states use different terms to describe the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities in divorce, legal separation, and other child custody cases. If you find yourself confused about the legal language California applies to child custody situations, the following may provide some clarity. However, this article is no substitute for the advice of an experienced Los Angeles child custody attorney.

Child Custody in California

There are two types of child custody in California. These are legal and physical child custody. One parent may hold sole legal and physical custody, or the parents may share a combination of the two.

When parents share legal or physical custody, they have joint legal or physical custody. While California may refer to parents sharing custody, the state does not use the word “shared” to describe a particular type of child custody.

Legal Custody in California

Legal child custody in California includes the right and responsibility to make significant decisions about a child’s:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Welfare
  • Medical care
  • Residence
  • Religious upbringing

Parents with joint legal custody share these decisions. While they do not have to agree on every decision, parents with joint legal custody should cooperate and make decisions together to avoid the need for court intervention.

When a parent is a child’s sole legal custodian, that parent may make these decisions alone.

Physical Custody in California

Physical child custody refers to where a child lives. While parents may have joint physical custody, they may not have a child for exactly the same amount of time due to school and activities. However, their custodial time is approximately equal.

A sole or primary physical custodian has a child most of the time. A parent without physical custody typically has visitation according to a court-ordered schedule.

Visitation or Time-Share Orders in California

Visitation or time-share orders are plans that define how parents will share time with their children. These vary based on the best interest of the children but are typically detailed to prevent conflict and confusion between the parents.

Effective visitation schedules usually account for holidays, birthdays, school breaks, and other special occasions. However, visitation schedules may be more open-ended when parents are flexible and can communicate well with each other.

When unsupervised visitation is not in the best interest of the children, the court can order visitation supervised by an adult or professional agency. In extreme cases, the court can order a parent to receive no visitation.

Contact an Experienced California Child Custody Attorney Today

If you want more information on joint child custody in California, contact an experienced family law attorney at Fernandez & Karney. Our skilled attorneys can help you build a strong, well-reasoned child custody case and present your case logically and passionately to the court.

Fernandez & Karney can also work alongside you to negotiate a time-share plan with your co-parent that works with your family’s busy schedule. We realize there is no one-size-fits-all formula when creating a practical family plan.

Call Fernandez & Karney in Los Angeles today to discuss your situation in a confidential consultation.