What Factors Do California Courts Consider When Deciding Visitation Arrangements?
Divorce is a difficult situation if there are children involved. Knowing your rights and responsibilities concerning divorce law can help make the process easier for you and your loved ones.
Types of Child Custody in California
There are two types of child custody in California law, legal and physical custody. Physical custody is having the right to live with the children who are under your custody. Joint physical custody allows both parents, in separate households, to have the right to live with their children. A parent who has sole physical custody has the only right to live with his or her children.
Legal custody allows a parent or guardian to make important decisions for children such as health care, education, and financial maintenance. Parents with joint legal custody both have rights and responsibilities to make decisions such as religion, school choice, medical decisions, travel, and place of residence. A parent with sole legal custody, in contrast, has the exclusive right to make decisions about school, health care, travel, residence, et cetera. Regardless of the situation, courts will weigh the best interests of the children in deciding custodial arrangements.
Court Considerations in Awarding Custody
There are many factors in awarding parental custody and visitation. Some of these factors are related to the child. A judge will consider a child’s age, gender, as well as mental and physical health in awarding custody and visitation. For example, a very young child such as a newborn or an infant may stay with the mother, especially if she is a nursing mother, if the parent is capable and competent. However, judges have several criteria for awarding custody.
The mental and physical health of the parents, the emotional ties between the parents and the child, and the parents’ abilities to provide food, shelter, medical care, and clothing are essential custodial factors. Lifestyle is also an important element in deciding custody. The quality of the school a child attends, and the continuation of the child’s routine at home and at school are critical to the custody decision. Judges, in concern for a child’s physical health, are more inclined to place children with non-smoking parents and, of course, with parents who do not abuse physically and emotionally, or who do not have substance abuse problems. When children are old enough, such as teenagers, they will often have a say in the custody decision. All these factors should be part of your custody and visitation plans.
The lawyers at The Law Office of Thomas M. Huguenor know you have hard choices as a parent. Our lawyers can help make your custody and visitation decisions easier. Please contact us at (858) 458-9500.