Child Custody

Whether you are divorcing or ending a relationship with a co-parent, child custody contests are usually one of the most difficult legal issues parents face.  The question of how and when you will spend time with your children, and when your children will spend time with the other parent, is an emotional one, and depending on the ages of the children, this may need to be revisited several times until they reach the age of majority.

It can be expected that your children's well-being is your top priority; Kara understands that and will always work with you to do what is best for your children. 

Basics of California Child Custody

The term "child custody" really means two different things. "Legal custody" refers to which parent, if not both, will make important decisions regarding the children, such as how they will be educated, what religion they will be raised in, and what medical treatment they will receive. "Physical custody" refers to whose home the child resides at on a day to day.

As a general rule, it is ideal for parents to reach their own agreement on custody and parenting time. After all, it is likely that they know the needs of their children better than the Court. However, if the parents are unable to make those determinations without the Court’s assistance, they have the option to file paperwork in order to have the Court decide issues regarding custody and parenting time.  California courts have wide discretion regarding custody orders. While they may not act arbitrarily, so long as they take the law and facts into account, and base their decisions on the best interests of the child [insert link to CA FC 3040], judges have significant latitude in reaching a custody determination. Because of this, having an attorney who is skilled in family law and familiar with the courts can have a great impact on the outcome of your case.

The State of California believes that it is generally best for parents to work together to make major decisions for their child. Therefore, joint legal custody is typical in California, though not universal. The state's custody laws require that child custody orders ensure that a child has "frequent and continuing contact" with both parents, and for both parents to share in the rights and responsibilities or raising their child. There are, of course, some situations in which it would not be in the child's best interest for one parent to have this authority. In those rare cases, sole legal custody may be ordered.

It is common for California parents to share joint physical custody of their child. This may not amount to exactly equal time with each parent, but each parent would spend substantial time with the child. It is possible for one parent to have sole physical custody, but that does not mean that the other parent has no time with the child. In a sole custody situation, the parent without custody would most likely have parenting time (also referred to as “visitation”) with the child.

Kara is available to help you navigate the issues you may face in your custody matter, including, but not limited to:

If you have questions about California spousal support, please contact the Law Office of Kara Schacher to schedule a free consultation.

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