Los Angeles Residential Custody Lawyers in Claremont Serving Throughout California
The child custody legal team at Blasser Law understands that for many divorcing couples, child custody is the single most important, and most divisive, issue that can arise in the divorce. Parents want to stay with their children through thick and thin. Our distinguished residential custody attorneys have spent decades fighting for the rights of our clients through divorce and separation, ensuring that they have every advantage when seeking residential/physical custody of their children.
How Do California Courts Decide Child Custody?
In an ideal situation, the parents would come to an agreement on child custody. Parents can jointly present a child custody and parenting time arrangement to the court, to be incorporated into the settlement agreement and ultimate divorce judgment. If the parents cannot agree on child custody, however, then it will be up to the court to decide.
California courts start with the presumption that both parents have equal rights to child custody; gone are the days when courts would assume children should live with their mother by default. Then, the court will undergo an analysis of the best interests of the child, based on several factors including the child’s health and safety; the nature and amount of contact with each parent; any history of abuse by either parent; and any other relevant factors. Courts may also consider the child’s preference, which is given added weight if the child is at least 14 years old.
Legal Custody vs. Physical/Residential Custody in California
In California, child custody is split into two separate legal concepts: Legal custody and physical or residential custody. Legal custody concerns each parent’s right to make important decisions concerning the child’s upbringing, including decisions about the child’s education, religious upbringing, and medical care. A parent with sole legal custody, for example, would have the lone right to decide where the child goes to school and whether they should receive elective medical care. (In case of emergency medical care, the rules are a bit different.)
Physical or residential custody, on the other hand, concerns where the child will reside. After divorce or separation, the parents and courts will need to decide upon the child’s living situation; whether, for example, the child will reside solely in one residence or split time between both parent’s houses. A parent with physical or residential custody has the right to have the child physically present in their home. If one parent has the sole or primary right to physical custody, they are known as the “custodial” or “residential” parent, while the other parent is known as the “noncustodial” or “non-residential” parent.
Joint vs. Sole Residential Custody
California courts generally prefer parents to have some sort of shared custody arrangement; absent a compelling reason to the contrary, courts assume that children would benefit most from continued contact with both parents. Joint custody refers to arrangements in which both parents enjoy regular, substantial time with the child, and both parents have the responsibility to physically care for the child.
Joint physical/residential custody does not mean that the parents share exactly the same amount of time with the child. An arrangement might still constitute joint residential custody even if one parent has more time with the child, so long as both parents have frequent custody rights. For example, a joint custody arrangement could specify that the child resides with one parent during the week (on schooldays) and with the other parent on the weekends. In such an arrangement, the court order might refer to the weekday parent as the parent with “primary physical custody” because the child resides with that parent for school enrollment purposes.
Sole physical custody, on the other hand, refers to arrangements in which the child resides exclusively or almost exclusively with one parent, the custodial or residential parent. The noncustodial parent would then have rights to visitation, subject to a court order or other agreement. A seasoned California child custody lawyer can help you explore your options for child custody and ensure that your parental rights are protected in the event of a divorce or separation.
Dedicated, Passionate California Divorce Lawyers for Claremont Child Custody Matters
For assistance with a divorce or custody dispute in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, contact a qualified, professional, and experienced Claremont child custody attorney at Blasser Law for a consultation at 877-927-2181.