California Child Custody Laws
Parents are granted legal and physical custody of their child/children. Whether they have sole or joint with the other parents depends upon the facts of the case.
Legal custody involves the right to make decision on behalf of their child/children as relates to:
- Selection of regular childcare providers or daycare centers
- Enrollment in or leaving a particular private or public school
- Participation in extracurricular activities
- Beginning or ending of psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy
- Selection of a doctor, dentist, or other health professional (except in emergency situations)
If the parents have joint legal custody, they must agree on any changes or seek court approval as to the changes being requested by one of the parents.
If only one parent has legal custody i.e.: sole custody, only that parent can make all of the decisions on behalf of the child/children. However, Family Code §3025 still applies as to the parent not having legal custody.
Physical custody involves with whom the child/children will be residing either primarily or on an equal basis. Parents can have joint physical custody with one parent only having supervised visits.
Custody and visitation orders can be either temporary or permanent. How the orders are stated will provide direction on how easy or difficult it is to modify them as your child/children’s needs change or there are significant changes as to how the other parent cares for the child/children.
If you are seeking to modify the current child custody and visitation orders, the court must look at a substantial list of factors including but not limited to the following:
- The best interests of the child;
- Hear what the child’s wishes and concerns are if they are 14 years of age or older;
- History of domestic violence between the parents and/or the parent and another;
- History of child abuse as to the child/children or another’s child;
- History of drug abuse;
- The amount of time that each parent spends with the child/children and any activities that they are involved in with the child/children;
- The ability of the parents to communicate effectively with each other as to the child/children.
We understand that each child custody case is unique as to the parties, so do not be discouraged if you believe that the odds of obtaining a new order is against you. With the appropriate legal help coupled with the courage to change, the possibility of obtaining custody rights to your child/children may be within reach.