Child Custody Lawyer – Basic info
There are two major classes of child custody. The first, physical custody, focuses on where a child will reside and under whose supervision the child will be.
The second type, legal custody, describes the parent’s rights and their responsibilities to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of the child.
Either type of custody may be awarded to one parent (“sole custody”) or to both parents (“joint custody”).
Your child custody lawyer must explain what is Physical custody and what types of physical custody exist:
Physical custody focuses on where a child will reside, and under whose supervision the child will be.
Sole physical custody means that only one parent will be responsible for the child in that regard.
Joint physical custody is where both parents share sufficient amounts of time so that the child will have frequent and continuous contact with both parents. It does not mean, however, that exactly half of the child’s time will be spent with each parent.
A child custody lawyer usually explains to the client that legal custody deals with the rights and responsibilities of a parent to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of the child.
Sole legal custody is where one parent is the only one to have the right to make those decisions.
Where the court has granted joint legal custody, either parent, acting alone, may make decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare of the child, unless the court orders that such decision-making be unanimous.
Child Custody Lawyer about child custody standards to make a custody award
What are the standards to make a custody award? Your child custody lawyer needs to be sure you are aware that in California, courts have broad discretion in awarding custody of a child during minority. Generally, courts will consider and try to reconcile as best it can, two critical issues:
- frequent and continuing contact with both parents;
- child’s best interests.
It is the policy of California that children are to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the divorce and to encourage parents to share the rights and obligations of parenthood.
There are certain situations where this policy would conflict with the goal of ensuring each child’s health, safety, and welfare. This may result from child abuse or domestic violence.
The main goal of the court is to award custody according to what is in the child’s best interests. This has nothing to do with what is best for the parents. Although this is a broad concept, the following six factors will help in figuring out what is in the child’s best interests.
Six important Child Custody factors your Child Custody Lawyer must discuss with you:
1. Abuse or domestic violence.
The court will consider any history of abuse by either parent against any child, the other parent, or any other close relation. Any finding of abuse will make it difficult for the perpetrator to get any custody, even joint.
- Relationship with siblings.
It is usually in the child’s best interests for children to have the companionship of their siblings. Typically, siblings will be kept together whenever possible. In other words, courts will not split up siblings, giving custody of one child to one parent and custody of the other child to the other parent.
3. Move out from home.
The court will not consider as a factor, the relocation of one parent from the home, as long as the absence is of a short duration, and the parent wants to and has kept contact with the child.
The court will, however, consider a relocation from the family residence when the parent who has moved out has done so because of a protective order. In addition, the court will consider relocation when the parent has abandoned the child because they want to have the child declared free from their control.
- Parents gender, race, physical handicap, economic position.
The court may not prefer a parent as custodial because of their gender, race, physical handicap, or economic position.
5. Preference of child.
The court will consider a child’s wishes in making a custody order, as long as the child is old enough to have an intelligent preference. There is no rule for when the court will abide by the child’s wishes. Rather, it is the child’s maturity that is controlling. Children as young as 10 were considered as mature, but the wishes of a 14-year-old were not considered in other cases.
6. Stability and continuity.
If a child has lived with one parent for a long period of time, the court will usually find that the need for stability and continuity is important in awarding custody.
Child Custody Lawyer’s discussion regarding Visitation
Unless visitation would be detrimental to the child, reasonable visitation rights will be awarded to a parent, when the other parent has been awarded sole physical custody.
Remember, the court will want both parents to have frequent and continuous contact with the child.
There are several situations where the court will limit visitation such as:
- Protective order concerning the parent;
- Domestic violence charge against the parent;
- Parent is a sex offender or committed rape;
- Parent has not paid child support in a timely manner.