After a divorce, parents often have questions about custody and visitation arrangements. In California, there are two types of custody: legal and physical. Read on to learn more about the difference between these two types of custody and how they may affect your family. 

Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing. This includes decisions that relate to education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. 

In most cases, a judge will award parents joint or shared legal custody. The idea here is that courts want to provide children with safe and stable living environments, considering what is in their best interest. In some cases, courts will award sole legal custody but only when the circumstances permit, like when one parent is incarcerated, or one parent has a documented history of abuse or neglect.

Parents with joint legal custody must discuss these decisions together and come to an agreement that is in the best interests of their child. If parents are unable to agree on a decision, they may need to go to court to ask a judge to make the decision for them. 

In California, courts will consider a number of factors when determining legal custody:

  • The relationships between the child and each parent
  • The child’s age and preference, if the child is of sufficient age
  • The parents’ work schedules
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent

Physical Custody 

Physical custody refers to where the child will live. A parent with primary physical custody is typically the child’s primary caregiver and the parent who provides the child’s home. 

A parent with partial physical custody typically has the child for part of the week or on alternating weekends. In some cases, a parent with partial physical custody may also have overnight visitations during the week. 

It’s not customary or common for courts to order an exact split on physical custody. It’s simply too challenging and too difficult for your child. 

Considering the best interests of your child, courts seek to provide a stable environment. Flipping back and forth constantly could create confusion for your child, making it more difficult for them to enjoy their childhood. By having one physical home, they’re not confused about where they live, and they get comfortable with a home base.

Parenting Plans

A parenting plan is a written document that outlines how parents will raise their child after divorce or separation. The plan covers important topics such as custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and decisions about education, medical care, and religious upbringing. A parenting plan can be created by the parents themselves, through mediation, or ordered by a court. If the parents are unable to agree on a plan, the court will create one for them.

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a parenting plan. First, the plan should be based on the best interests of the child. Second, the plan should be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the future. Third, the plan should be specific enough to provide guidance for both parents. Finally, the plan should be reviewed and updated regularly as the needs of your child change.

A well-crafted parenting plan can help divorced or separated parents stay organized and focused on their child’s needs. It can also reduce conflict and provide stability for children during a time of transition.

Speak With a San Diego Family Law Attorney Today

Understanding your rights relating to your child can be confusing and overwhelming. If you have any questions about your particular custody arrangement, speak with an experienced family law attorney in San Diego, California, who can help protect your rights as a parent. 

Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in San Diego, CA

Contact our experienced San Diego divorce lawyers at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today for legal assistance. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108