When a couple with children decides to separate or divorce in the state of California, child custody becomes a major topic of discussion. The end goal of child custody disputes is to make a decision that is in the best interests of the child. These decisions relate to the child's physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
A mother or father can be granted custody in California. Two types of custody exist, physical and legal. Physical custody relates to who the child physically resides with, whereas legal custody relates to the decisions that are made for the child, such as religion, healthcare and education. Each type of custody can be sole or joint, meaning that one parent can hold the right individually or the parents can share custody. The custody guidelines are written into a court's custody order. A custody order can be created when a parent petitions the court or when a couple goes through the process of divorce.
When a noncustodial parent, or the parent who has the child less than fifty percent of the time,, spends time with their child, it is called visitation. Every noncustodial parent is initially given visitation rights. These rights allow them to spend time with their child under reasonable circumstances. In the event that the parent is not fit for visitation, the court may order supervised, or limited visitation.
Child custody can become a difficult and complex area of law. Parents experiencing separation or divorce in the state of California may find it useful to discuss their situation with an experienced legal professional who can help them protect their legal rights.
Source: California Courts, "Basics of Custody & Visitation Orders," Accessed October 21, 2014