Legal Custody

Child Custody

Focused On Seeking the Best Possible Outcome in Your Case

There are two different forms of custody. Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the major decision-making authority of a minor child and the right to information. Physical custody relates to the physical care of the minor child or who the child lives or spends time with. Visitation is the actual schedule the parties share in connection with caring for their minor child. The Court promotes frequent and continuing contact with both parents and will make custodial orders based upon the best interests of the child.

Here's an overview of Legal Custody in California:

Joint Legal Custody:

When parents share joint legal custody, they both have the right to participate in decision-making regarding their child's well-being. This means they must collaborate and agree on major decisions affecting the child's life. Joint legal custody is the default preference in California, as it encourages both parents to remain actively involved in their child's upbringing.

Sole Legal Custody:

In situations where it is determined to be in the child's best interests, a court may award sole legal custody to one parent. In this case, one parent has the sole authority to make important decisions regarding the child. The other parent may have visitation rights but won't have a say in these major decisions.

Best Interests of the Child:

The primary consideration in all legal custody determinations in California is the best interests of the child. The court will consider various factors, such as the child's age, health, emotional ties with each parent, the stability of each parent's home, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse. The goal is to ensure the child's safety, security, and well-being.

Parenting Plans and Agreements:

Parents can develop their own parenting plan or agreement regarding legal custody. These agreements should outline how major decisions will be made and which responsibilities each parent will have. If parents can agree, the court will generally approve these plans, provided they are in the child's best interests.

Mediation Services:

In many custody cases, parents are required to attempt mediation before going to court to resolve legal custody disputes. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps parents reach an agreement regarding legal custody. If parents cannot agree, the court may establish a plan for them.

Modification of Legal Custody:

If circumstances change, it is possible to seek a modification of legal custody orders. A parent may request a change if they can demonstrate that the current arrangement is no longer in the child's best interests.