One of the most common types of legal disputes that California residents might be a part of at some point in their lives is child custody disputes. Whether the parents are divorcing, or were never married, child custody disputes can turn into complicated and emotional affairs quite quickly. Our readers who are facing such a dispute should know some of the basics about child custody.
For starters, there are two main aspects to child custody: “legal” custody and “physical” custody. Legal custody refers to which parent – or both – will get to make the important decisions that will impact the life of the child, such as decisions about where the child will attend school or church, or what medical care the child will receive. Of course, for parents, almost any decision impacting their child is important, which is why family law judges oftentimes prefer to order “joint” legal custody. This means that both parents will be able to have input on important decisions and, hopefully, arrive at an acceptable solution without the need to refer the matter to the court.
Physical custody refers to where the child will actually spend time and live. There are many different options when it comes to physical custody. In many cases, the parents can work out an arrangement that works for the schedules of all involved. However, if needed, a family law judge can order an arrangement, such as splitting weekends and holidays between the parents, and ordering visitation times during the week.
Perhaps the most important basic fact to know about child custody in California is that a family law judge will adhere to the standard of what is in the “best interests of the child” when making or approving decisions. Each family has unique dynamics to consider when child custody decisions are made.