Family Law Attorney 101: What You Need to Know About Child Custody in California
In this post, we’re going to help you understand some legal ramifications when dealing with the sharing of parenting responsibilities. Often times, you will hear the phrases “custody” and “visitation” used in separation and divorce cases, but there are a couple of distinctions we must make here: “Child custody” refers to the rights and responsibilities between parents for taking care of their children, while “visitation” refers to the way in which each parent will spend time with the children.
In the Golden State, either parent can have custody of the children or the parents can share custody, with a judge making the final decision about visitation and custody. Usually, this judge will approve the arrangement – or parenting plan – that both parents agree on; if they cannot come to an arrangement, the judge will render a decision at a court hearing. Important to note is that the judge will normally not make a decision about custody and visitation until after the parents have met with a mediator from Family Court Services (or have spoken with a child custody attorney).
Types of Custody Orders
There are two types of child custody:
- Legal – This refers to the entity that makes important decisions for your children (education, welfare, health care, etc.).
- Physical – Who your children live with.
Legal custody can consist of:
- Joint – Both parents share the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children.
- Sole – Only one parent has the right and responsibility to make the aforementioned important decisions.
Parents with legal custody make choices or decisions concerning their children’s:
- School or child care
- Sports/summer camp/vacation/extracurricular activities
- Doctor/dentist/orthodontist or other health professional (except in emergency situations)
- Psychiatric/psychological or other mental health counseling or therapy demands
- Religious activities or institutions
Like legal custody, physical custody can consist of:
- Joint – Children live with both parents.
- Sole/Primary – Children live with one parent most of the time while usually visiting the other parent.
Types of Visitation Orders
- Visitation According to a Schedule – Parents and courts come up with a schedule detailing the times and dates that the children will be with both parents.
- Reasonable Visitation – An order that does not necessarily go into details concerning when the children will be with each parent.
- Supervised Visitation – Used when the children’s safety and wellbeing demand that visits with the other parent be supervised by you, another adult or professional agency.
- No Visitation – Used when determining that a visit with the parent, even with supervision, would be physically or emotionally harmful to the children.
If you have been looking for a child custody lawyer in Roseville to handle all your separation and visitation concerns, contact McKean Family Law at (916) 666-7874.