Watching out for our children’s best interest is the concern (or should be) of all parties involved—that includes the State of California, its court system, and family law attorneys as well as the parents. In fact, the key factor for judges to consider when determining child custody is whether the particular arrangement is in the best interest of the child.
Of course, different parties have different perspectives and opinions on what constitutes the child’s best interest. Because it is such an important and emotional issue, the process of determining child custody (whether through mediation or litigation) can be very emotional and divisive.
Fortunately, many parents can come together and agree upon a plan that is well suited for the children and the particular circumstances of the family. The more the parents can agree and work together amicably or civilly, the more secure and nurtured the children will feel.
Here, at Shoreline Legal Group, we can assist you in drawing up a parenting plan, coach you on your rights and options regarding custody and visitation, and more. Contact us today to see how we can help.
TYPES OF CUSTODY
Legal custody means the parent has authority to make important decisions on behalf of the child such as health, education or spiritual upbringing. Legal custody can be sole or joint. Even where one parent has sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent can retain parental rights which allow the parent to share in significant decisions affecting the children and access to important information such as medical and education records.
Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child physically lives. This can also be sole or joint. The family law court has wide discretion in awarding physical custody based on the standard of what is in the best interest of the child. Another key standard every California judge must consider is ensuring frequent and continuing contact with both parents (as long as this is in the best interest of the child).
Visitation is most often awarded to the non-custodial parent. It is California’s public policy to assure that children have frequent and continuing contactwith both parents; therefore, the court will order visitation for the parent with whom the children are not residing. This visitation order can vary widely based on the family’s circumstances and on what the court deems is in the best interest of the children. Parents can work out a parenting plan together rather than deliver all the control to the court to decide. Practically speaking, this isn’t always possible if the two parents can’t agree, but if they can, it lessens the animosity between parties as well as the resulting stress that the children will inevitably experience.
If you have questions or need assistance with a custody order or visitation agreement, Shoreline Legal Group can help. Call us to set up a consultation.