Murrieta Child Custody Attorney
Experienced Child Custody Lawyer Serving Riverside County, CA
Child custody describes the legal and practical relationship between a parent and child. When parents decide to divorce or separate, their child's custody arrangements must be taken into careful consideration in order to maintain and preserve the crucial parent-child relationship.
Child custody arrangements are often difficult for parents to resolve without conflict. Therefore, it is always beneficial for both parents to seek the advice and counsel of an accomplished Murrieta child custody lawyer who is experienced in California family law.
TYPES OF CHILD CUSTODY IN CALIFORNIA
IN CALIFORNIA, THERE ARE SEVERAL DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHILD CUSTODY:
- Sole legal and physical custody - one parent has primary custody and control of the child and the right to make all decisions pertaining to the child's health, residence, and education. In this situation, the other parent (aka the "non-custodial parent") may still have the right to visitation with the child.
- Sole physical custody - one parent has primary physical custody of the child, and the child resides with this parent. Again, the non-custodial parent may still have visitation rights.
- Sole legal custody - one parent has primary legal custody of the child, and has the right to make decisions pertaining to the child's health, education, and welfare.
- Joint legal custody - both parents share legal custody, and have the right to make all decisions pertaining to the child's health, residence, and education.
- Joint physical custody - both parents share physical custody, and the child resides with each parent for a set amount of time.
The California courts are required to act as the child's advocate and therefore must make custody orders with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration. If feasible and in the child's best interest, both parents will be awarded joint legal and physical custody of their children. However, there are often situations in which such an order is either impractical or not in the child's best interest. Speak with our Murrieta child custody attorney to learn more about this.
HOW IS CHILD CUSTODY DETERMINED IN CALIFORNIA?
Foremost in a judge's mind when determining whether to award joint or sole custody to a parent boil down to what is in the child's best interests. Both parents have an assumed equal right to custody—specifically, no preference is given to the mother or father.
The two guiding policies in California are the health, safety, and welfare of the child on the one hand, and maintaining frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Judges may and do consider factors relevant within these parameters in individual cases.
Judges must at all times uphold the child's welfare in determining custody. Judges will not grant custody or even visitation rights to a father of a child conceived as a result of the father's rape of the mother, for example. Custody or unsupervised visitation also cannot be awarded to a parent who has been convicted of certain types of physical or sexual child abuse. Even if the abuse did not result in a conviction but is independently corroborated, visitation rights can be affected. To assure all factors are properly considered in your case, it is highly recommended to speak with an experienced Murrieta child custody lawyer.
The Child's Wishes & Relationship with the Parents
In California, the court must take the wishes of the child into consideration so long as the child is mature enough to make an informed decision. No definitive age is given, but the older and more mature a child is, the more weight which will be attached to the child's preference.
A significant factor is determining which parent will be more likely to encourage a positive relationship in terms of fostering frequent contact with the other parent. If a parent is shown to have interfered with the child's relationship with the other parent, especially if they have level false allegations against the other parent in an attempt to limit their contact with the child, the accuser may find their custody or visitation restricted.
Legal vs Physical Custody in California
Parents should understand that custody can be either legal or physical, sole or joint.
- Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make major decisions in the child's life including choices involving the child's health, education, and welfare.
- Physical custody is the ability to a parent to have their child live with them.
Judges who award joint legal custody are not obligated to also order joint physical custody and parents can agree to joint legal custody without agreeing to equal physical custody.
For help with child custody matters, contact Attorney Sharon Tate in Temecula, a Partner at The Grey Legal Group, APC, and get the critical legal counsel you need! Give us a call to speak with an experienced Murrieta child custody lawyer today.