CALIFORNIA CHILD CUSTODY
There are two major circumstances in which child custody and/or child visitation usually becomes an issue:
1. When a child’s parents, who are married, decide to divorce.
2. When one is a Single Parent OR co-parenting
One is considered a single parent when they are the only parent taking on the day to day responsibilities of raising their child.
Co-parenting is when the parents, although living separately, both maintain equal or equivalent responsibilities for their child’s upbringing. This is usually the case when a couple separates or divorces. Co-parenting is also common when a child is born to parent’s who were not married, but both want to be active, involved parents for the child.
In cases of Single or Co-parenting, if the parties were never married, a Paternity Action must be filed in order to formally establish custody of a child, visitation and/or child support.
In California, there are two types of child custody:
1. Legal Custody
2. Physical Custody
Legal Custody means who will make important decisions for your children such as health care, education, and
welfare. Physical Custody means who your children will live with.
Parents are required to participate in mediation and attempt to come to an agreement regarding custody. However, if they are unable to reach an agreement, the court will determine both who will make decisions for the child and whom the child will live with. Either party may request temporary orders pending trial.
When the court makes child custody decisions, it will consider many different factors including, but not limited to:
1. The child’s existing living arrangements, schedule, and any potential effects significant change to such arrangements will have on the child.
2. The parents’ relationships with the child.
3. The parents’ lifestyles including abhorrent and criminal behavior or allegations of such.
4. The health of the parents (both physical and mental).
5. The living situation of the parents and their ability to provide for the child.
6. The parents’ attitudes towards the other parent’s rights to the child.
7. What the child wants.
8. The age, gender, and health of the child.
Experts agree that a child’s well-being benefits most when they are able to continue to have a bond with both parents. The parent that is not awarded primary physical custody of the child has the right to visitation, absent a showing of why that parent should be denied that right; and even in this instance, the court may award supervised visitation if it is in the child’s best interest.
Our office specializes in working with individuals and their families, guiding them when making important decisions that will have a significant impact on their family. Frequently we counsel people who are not aware of their
child custody rights or California custody laws. Because of lack of information, the best interest of their children is
often at risk.
We also frequently counsel individuals who, due to tension between them, make irrational decisions to “get back” at
the other parent; these actions can have a detrimental effect on the children involved. Often, something as simple as
having a neutral person guide the parties, helps them come to an agreement that is in the child’s best interest.
Merissa Grayson is a private Child Custody mediator and encourages mediation as an option in many circumstances.
Whether you have just been served with custody papers, want to file for child custody, are seeking custody
modification, need a mediator, or would just like to receive information on California custody laws and your custody
rights, we can help.