California Custody Law: What You Need To Know

california custody law
california custody law

In a divorce or separation, it is important to determine who will have custody of the child or children. Read on to learn more about child custody in California custody law, from some basic definitions to the criteria judges use to award custody.

What is child custody?

Before we delve into the California child custody notebooks, it’s important to clarify some basic legal terms.

First, “custody” refers to the rights and responsibilities to make decisions about the upbringing of a child. As we will see in the next section, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Visitation, on the other hand, refers to how each parent spends time with the child. The parent who has the least time for the child is the one with visitation rights.

Child Custody in California

As we have already explained, there are two types of custody. Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make decisions that affect the life of the child. Custody relates to who the child lives with.

Some examples of choices made by parents who have legal custody include:

  • The school or nursery the child attends.
  • The activities in which the child participates.
  • Travels
  • Home
  • Health needs and services (except emergencies)

Both physical and legal custody can be single or shared. In cases where one parent has sole custody, only that parent has the right to make decisions affecting the life of the son or daughter. When custody is shared, that right and responsibility is shared by both parents.

Likewise, in cases where one parent has sole custody, the child lives with that parent and visits the other. Joint custody means that the child lives with both parents.

How is custody determined?

California state law does not automatically assign custody to the father or mother. The judge makes a decision based on the best interests of the child.

Many factors are considered when giving custody to a parent. Some of these factors are:

  • The age of the son or daughter
  • The emotional bonds between father and son or daughter
  • The ability of each parent to care for the children
  • The history of the parents
  • The ties between the child and their community
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