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Legal Lingo: Learn the Ins and Outs of Child Custody Laws in California

child custody

All child custody and visitation orders related to divorce in California are not equal. In fact, there’s a world of differences between “legal” and “physical” custody. We will talk about it in this issue.

Child Custody in California

Here in California, there are two types of child custody: legal and physical.

With legal custody comes the authority to make decisions about the child’s health, welfare and education. This can include:

  • Where the child will attend school
  • When the child will receive medical care
  • Whether or not the child will take part in religious activities

Under joint legal custody – which is common in California – both parents share the authority to make those decisions, but they do not have to agree on those decisions. Joint legal custody is typically ordered by the court unless both parents cannot make those decisions together, or one is deemed unfit for some other reason.

Physical custody describes where the child will live. The parent with whom the child lives with either exclusively or primarily is the custodial (or residential) parent; the other parent is the non-custodial (non-residential) parent.

With joint physical custody, the child will spend time with both parents. Because it’s nearly impossible to split the time so that it’s perfectly even, it’s typical for the child to spend a little more time with one of the parents.

How Visitation is Handled in California

In the visitation agreement, both parents will be given a plan detailing how they will share time with the child. These orders are varied to suit the individual best interests of the child, but in general, the visitation can look like this:

  • Visitation according to a fixed schedule – this can spell out exactly how holidays, special occasions (birthdays, father’s day, etc.) and vacations will be scheduled for the parents and the child
  • Reasonable visitation – open-ended agreements that allow both parents to flesh out the details
  • Supervised visitation – used in instances when the child’s safety and well-being needs special attention by supervision from the other parent, another adult or professional agency
  • No visitation – given when it’s not in the best interest of the child for the parent to have any contact

If You’re a Man Facing Divorce, Call The Men’s Legal Center

There’s a special bond between child and father. That’s another reason why it’s crucial to contact The Men’s Legal Center if you’re facing divorce. We’ll make sure you have the resources and knowledge to position you for the best possible outcome in family court, and help to maintain your bond with your child.

You can reach us at 619-234-3838 or via email.