There was a time, decades ago, when many married women were stay-at-home moms and dads were the ones who went off to work every day, and when, in divorce, there was a preference for awarding custody of the children to the mother. Those days are gone and the idea that moms always get custody is now just a myth. There are many different factors that are considered, and the court does not favor either parent based on their gender.
Types of Custody in California
There are two types of custody in California:
- Legal custody. A parent who has legal custody has the authority to make important decisions concerning the children’s health, education, and wellbeing, such as where the children go to school, decisions about their healthcare, and more. Legal custody can be joint, meaning that both parents have input into the decision making, or it can be solely granted to only one parent.
- Physical custody. This means with which parent the children live. Likewise, it can be joint, meaning the children will live with each parent a substantial amount of the time, although the schedule might not be exactly “equal”. Sole custody, or primary custody, means the children live with one parent and visit with the other one.
Joint Legal Custody. When possible, courts prefer awarding the parents joint legal custody, which means the parents decide together about:
- Childcare decisions.
- Counseling needs.
- Healthcare decisions.
- Extracurricular activities.
- Vacation trips.
Factors Courts Consider When Awarding Physical Custody
Courts order physical custody according to what they determine is in the best interest of the children. In making the decision, the goal is to order what is in the children’s best interest and court will allow all relevant evidence to be considered:
- The child’s age.
- The child’s health and, if relevant, the health of the parents.
- How much each parent cared with the children during the marriage.
- Whether a parent is more available now than they were before.
- The child’s ties to the school, home, and community if the parents live in different places.
- The ability of a parent to encourage and foster a relationship with the other parent.
Timeshare and Visitation Orders
The law encourages both parents to spend time with their children. Fostering a health parent-child relationship, though “frequent and continuing contact” is the goal.
Reasonable timeshare. If parents are able to put the interest of the children first, and are able to reach agreement on how to share time with them, the court will almost always accepts that agreement It does not need to be a detailed set schedule if the parents can, from time to time, agree upon a schedule between themselves that works for them and for their children, although the timeshare plan can include more detail if the parent agree that is helpful.
Scheduled visitation. If the parents cannot work together and are unable to agree on a reasonable visitation schedule, the court will order a schedule, looking at the factors able, and both parents must adhere to it.
If there are concerns about a child’s safety with one parent, either supervised visits or, on the rare occurrence no visitation will be ordered.
Contact us at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law
For assistance with your divorce, and how to work out the best custody and visitation schedule for your children, contact the team at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law.