Child custody is the foundation for many extended disagreements in a California divorce. Parents are undoubtedly concerned about their child and want to cobble together and agreement that adheres to their best interests. Still, there will inevitably be issues in dispute as the parties try to formulate an agreement. Understanding the two types of custody orders that can be made and working within those parameters is an essential aspect of the case.
Understanding legal custody
There are two subsets of legal custody. They are joint custody and sole custody. If there is a joint custody agreement, the parents share the decision-making responsibility for the child’s education, healthcare, living arrangements, extracurricular activities, travel and more. Sole custody gives the parent who is granted that type of custody the right to make those decisions alone. When there is shared legal custody, the parties can decide on their own. Agreement between the parents for every part of the child’s life is not necessary. It is important, however, that there is sufficient communication between them to avoid rancor and other challenges.
Key aspects of physical custody
With physical custody, there are also two levels: joint custody and sole custody. Sole custody is also referred to as primary custody. Many might misinterpret joint custody to mean that the child must be with each parent precisely half the time. That is not the case. In general, the child will be with one parent more than the other due to logistical issues, school and work. If a parent is given the right to have the child more than 50% of the time, that parent has sole or primary custody. The court can award joint custody but still not give joint physical custody. The other parent will be granted visitation rights.
Legal assistance can protect a parent’s rights
When there is a family law case with child custody at its center, it is easy for the parents to become embroiled in an extended and contentious battle. To prevent that and address the fundamental concerns while protecting parents’ rights, legal advice may be necessary. This is true if the parents are on relatively good terms or not. Consulting with a firm that is experienced in all areas of family law may be beneficial for everyone involved.