Physical Custody

Child Custody

Focused On Seeking the Best Possible Outcome in Your Case

Physical custody refers to where a child resides and how their time is divided between parents or caregivers. In California, child custody laws govern both physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody can be joint (shared by both parents) or sole (awarded to one parent).

Here's an overview of physical custody laws in California:

Joint Physical Custody:

Joint physical custody means that the child spends significant time living with both parents. The goal is to ensure that the child maintains regular and continuous contact with both parents. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split of time; the specific schedule can vary depending on the circumstances and the child's best interests.

Sole Physical Custody:

Sole physical custody means that the child primarily resides with one parent, and the other parent typically has visitation rights or parenting time. The parent with sole physical custody has the child living with them for the majority of the time.

Best Interests of the Child:

In California, as in most states, the primary consideration in all custody determinations is the best interests of the child. When deciding on physical custody, the court considers various factors, including 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.

Parenting Plans and Agreements:

Parents can work together to create their own parenting plan or custody agreement, which outlines the specific schedule for physical custody. The court generally encourages parents to cooperate and create arrangements that serve the child's best interests.

Mediation Services:

Many custody cases in California require parents to attempt mediation before going to court to resolve physical custody disputes. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps parents reach an agreement regarding physical custody and visitation. If parents cannot agree, the court may establish a plan for them.

Modification of Physical Custody:

If circumstances change, it is possible to seek a modification of physical 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.