Understanding Child Custody In California

In California Family Law, Child Custody by Robert Toler0 Comments

We use the word “custody” because that’s what most people think of when they talk about time with their kids after a divorce. But most family law professionals, including lawyers and judges, stay away from the word “custody”. Instead, we talk about “parenting time” and “decision-making.”

The reason is, the phrase “custody” implies ownership or control of something, you can envision the children being “perp-walked” from one parent to the other in handcuffs.  “Custody” isn’t parenting.  Parenting is promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood.  Doesn’t that sound better?

Custody Part 1 – Parenting Time

The first half of what people mean by “child custody” is parenting time.  Parenting time is the nuts and bolts of the actual time spent with the kids.  It includes:

  • How will the week be split up between the two homes?
  • Where will transitions occur?
  • What are the arrangements for holiday parenting time?
  • What will summer schedules look like?

The best way to keep a parenting plan from becoming contentious is to make it extremely detailed. This provides certainty and security. You can always make changes to the parenting time by agreement of the parties. In our experience, the more detailed the plan, the more likely it is to work long term. The less detailed the plan, the more likely it is that unanticipated circumstances will arise and cause conflict.

Custody Part 2 – Decision Making

The second half of “custody” is all about decisions.  Making joint decisions means the parents work together on important decisions for the kids.  Sole decision making means only one parent makes the decisions for the kids.

  • Common decisions include:
  • Choice of Schools
  • Religion
  • Healthcare
  • Discipline

Colorado courts prefer for parents to work together on decision making, in most cases.  However, there are cases where joint decision making is impossible, or not in the best interests of the children.

Your Rights As A Parent in California

Creating a good parenting plan can be one of the hardest goals of divorce. Good plans require cooperation from both parents. Parents who put their kids first can develop a parenting plan which is flexible, fair, and in the best interests of their children.

Parenting is a fundamental right, but it can take a back seat to the wellbeing of the kids.  And parents who walk into court demanding their “rights”, without talking about how it impacts the kid’s wellbeing, are asking for trouble.

By familiarizing yourself with the court’s expectations, you’ll be better able to meet both yours and your children’s goals. Our child custody lawyers can make the process of creating parenting plans easier, and give you more peace of mind through this tough transition.

Let Our Experienced Child Custody Lawyers Help

When you’re involved in a child custody case in California, you want to reach an agreement about parenting time and decision-making which serves the best interests of your child.  That’s where Modern Family Law comes in.  Our team can help and will protect your rights at every step.

At Modern Family Law our clients come first. Our child custody attorneys approach your case with compassion and integrity. We’ll work toward child custody solutions with professionalism and excellence.

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