When someone threatens to limit your access to your child, tries to sever your relationship with your child, or otherwise acts to interfere with your relationship with your child, your natural response is to fight. How you choose to fight to protect your relationship with your child has a greater influence on the outcome than the threat. Resorting to “self help” rarely works. Seeking out competent legal counsel greatly increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome, including an award of primary custody.
At the time of your divorce or parentage action, a child custody determination will be made. Based upon an assessment of each parent’s capabilities and the needs of the child, a child custody order will establish who will have legal custody (decision-making authority) and physical custody (who has physical responsibility for the child’s care). Various arrangements are possible, including sole physical and legal custody, joint physical or sole physical and joint legal custody. A number of different physical and legal custody arrangements are possible:
- Joint legal custody: California law favors an arrangement where parents share legal custody of a child. Joint legal custody means that both parents cooperate in major parenting decisions, those that involve, for example, religion, major medical care, and education.
- Sole legal custody: Our attorneys have seen cases where the court granted one parent sole decision-making authority in a custody decree, most often when the non-custodial parent is absent or unfit.
- Joint physical custody: Joint physical custody describes a wide range of arrangements for residence and visitation and rarely means that a child spends exactly 50% of his or her time with each parent. Our lawyers will be happy to discuss benefits and options afforded by creative custody agreements.
- Sole physical custody: If your ex is a danger to your child or in some other way unfit to have visitation privileges, our lawyers will petition for full physical custody with limited visitation.