Figuring out who is responsible for raising your children and making the decisions that impact their welfare may be the most important legal determination in your life and theirs. When two parents do not live with one another, it is critical to establish the custody arrangement of the children in order to protect their stability and security while ensuring your rights as a parent.
Types of Custody in California
In California, custody involves both Legal Custody and Physical Custody. Legal custody is the right of one or both parents to make important decisions on the child’s behalf, such as what type of education they will receive, what health treatment they should get, whether they should attend religious services, and whether they can get parental consent for trips and other matters. Physical custody is the right and responsibility of a parent to provide shelter and food for a child, among other needs. Each type of custody can be shared jointly or awarded solely to one parent.
Determining Custody in California
A variety of arrangements can be reached under California law with regard to these two types of custody. For example, one parent might be awarded sole legal custody while both parents share joint physical custody, with the child staying with each parent during different times of the week.
Parents can reach an agreement regarding a custody arrangement through negotiation or mediation, or the court will order a custody arrangement if the parents cannot agree. In determining custody, the court will focus on what custody arrangement serves the best interests of the child. This is based on a variety of factors, including, among other things:
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The child’s needs
- The ability of each parent to provide for the needs of the child
- The child’s stated preference
If a father who was not married to the mother when the child was born or conceived seeks custody, he may need to establish paternity before being awarded custody.
Custody often occurs during a divorce trial, but any biological parent may seek custody of a child at any time. Grandparents and others may also seek custody in some circumstances, such as where both parents are deceased or are unable or unwilling to take care of the child.
Modifying a Custody Order or Moving Out of State
After a court issues a custody order, a custodial or noncustodial parent may later seek to modify that custody order, either by granting custody or lifting or changing a restriction in the custody order. For example, many custody orders prohibit a parent from moving out of the state without approval from the other parent. In order to modify such an order, the parent will need to go to court and present evidence to the judge for why the order should be modified.
Resolve Your Child Custody Issues With Experienced Family Law Attorneys
The family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, APLC, have many years of experience representing parents and children in child custody matters, and are dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcomes for their clients. For a consultation regarding your child custody matter, call our offices today.