What is Legal Custody?

Legal custody is the ability to make decisions especially long-term decisions about your minor child or children, decisions such as what school you children will attend, what physician they will use, if they can obtain a driver’s license or a passport, etc.

What is Joint Legal Custody?

Joint legal custody means that both parents will consult with one another when making such decisions for their minor children.  Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the authority to make legal decisions.  Joint legal custody is usually appropriate for two parents who are able to communicate and who have both had a role in caring for the minor children. When parents live far from one another, one party is absent, or parents don’t communicate, sole legal custody to one parent may be the better option.

What is Physical Custody?

Physical custody is where your child resides primarily. Sole custody or primary physical custody means that a child lives primarily with one parent.  Joint physical custody means that the child spends significant time with both parents. Joint physical custody does not always mean 50-50.  More often than not, joint physical custody is not a true 50-50 split.

How does the court decide who gets custody?

The court has broad discretion when it comes to custody.  California law says the court must choose the custody plan that is in your child’s best interest.  When looking at your child’s best interest, they will look at the current parenting plan and determine who has been the primary caretaker as well as any other evidence offered to determine the correct child sharing arrangement.

I heard I have to go to mediation if I want to change my custody arrangement. What’s that?

California law requires all parents seeking the court’s assistance in crafting a visitation or custody plan to first attend mediation at the courthouse.  An independent, neutral mediator is assigned to your case, and you and the other parent sit down with this mediator and attempt to reach an workable solution.  The role of the mediator is to facilitate conversation between the two parents so that the two of you can reach an amicable agreement.  Sometimes, this process is all that is necessary to finalize visitation plans.  Other times, mediation is unsuccessful, and the assistance of a judge is still required.

Contact the Saghera Law Group Today

If you are considering divorce, are involved in a disagreement over custody or have other family law related issues, we invite you contact us to discuss your situation.  Your choice of counsel can be the single most important decision you make that will guide the course and path of your family law matter.  We are here to help and guide you through this process and help you find a solution to your current troubles.