Understanding Legal and Physical Custody

Physical Custody

The most difficult part of divorce is probably losing time with your children. The court will award custody based on the best interests of your kids, so be sure you have your life in order when you head to court. You should also know that legal custody and physical custody are two completely different things.

When a parent has legal custody, they are in charge of major decisions in the child’s life such as medical care, schooling, and safety. Physical custody, on the other hand, is when a child lives with a parent.

Joint physical custody refers to custody shared by both parents, although the amount of time spent with each may not be equal. Just because a judge awards joint legal custody doesn’t mean that they will also order joint physical custody. Parents can also make the decision to share legal custody, but not equal physical custody.

If parents agree to it, California law prefers to award joint legal and physical custody. However, if no agreement can be made, the court uses its discretion to come up with a parenting plan that’s in the child’s best interests. If they do not order joint custody when either parent has requested it, the judge must offer up a written explanation for their decision.

In California, parents have the legal right to create their own parenting plan for physical and legal custody, as long as they can come to an agreement. If they can’t agree, they’ll be required to attend mediation before going to court to contest it. If that doesn’t work, custody will be determined by the judge.

California courts base custody awards on the standard best interests of the children involved in the case. Split between two policies, any factor deemed relevant to the situation can be taken into account.

If you and your ex-spouse are having difficulty coming up with a parenting agreement, contact the Law Offices of Kayleene H. Writer, PLCĀ for a free consultation. We’ll help you act with the courts to come up with a plan that works for everyone.