Legal vs Physical Custody
In the state of California, there are two types of child custody:
- Legal Custody - This identifies who makes important decisions for the children (such as health care, education, and other decisions).
- Physical Custody - This type outlines who the children will live with.
Legal custody can be ruled as either joint or sole custody. Joint custody will result in both parents sharing the right and responsibility to make decisions for the child, while sole custody will give only one parent the right and responsibility to make decisions. Parents who choose to share legal custody will each have the right to make decisions about how the child is raised — from where they go to school to important medical decisions and religious activities.
The parents do not have to agree on every decision, and either parent can make a decision on their own — but to avoid ending up back in court, it's important that both parents communicate and cooperate together whenever possible.
Determining Physical Custody
Physical custody can also be ruled as either joint or sole custody. Joint custody will result in the child or children living with both parents, while sole or primary custody means the child will live with just one of the parents. Joint physical custody does not automatically mean that the child must split time evenly between the parents. Typically, the child will spend a little more time with one parent versus the other because it's simply too difficult to split time exactly in half. Whichever parent has the child for more than half the time may be considered the "primary custodial parent."
If sole custody is awarded to one of the parents, that doesn't mean the other parent cannot be awarded visitation rights that will allow them to see the child. Visitation orders can vary depending on a number of different factors, but generally speaking, the courts will usually make their decisions based on what's best for the child.
Put Experience on Your Side
With so many factors at play during a custody battle, it’s so crucial that you have a skilled and experienced family law attorney working for you to protect your parental rights. There is nothing scarier than the prospect of losing your children — and that should be scary! There is nothing more important than preserving the relationship with your children, and you deserve to have a strong advocate on your side doing everything they can to ensure this doesn't happen to you.
At Men’s Family Law, we specialize in helping clients fight for their rights as a father, and we’re proud to do all that we can to help keep families together. If you or someone you know is involved in a child custody battle, call and schedule a simple case consultation today.