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Understanding Child Custody In California

The word “custody” is what most people think of when they talk about time with their kids after a divorce. Most family law professionals, including lawyers and judges, stay away from this term. Instead, “parenting time” and “decision-making” are commonly used in its place.

The phrase, “custody” implies ownership or control of something, so “custody” isn’t parenting.  Parenting is promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Divorce and custody cases are already so negative so using a most positive term is important.

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

The best way to keep a parenting plan from becoming contentious is to make it extremely detailed. This plan 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.

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 major life decisions for their kids.

Common decisions include:

  • Choice of Schools
  • Religion
  • Healthcare
  • Discipline

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

Your “Custody” Rights

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 that is flexible, fair, and in the best interest of their children.

Parenting is a fundamental right, but it can take a back seat to the wellbeing of the kids.  Parents who walk into court demanding their “rights” without talking about how it impacts the kid’s wellbeing are asking for trouble. By understanding the court’s expectations, each party will be better able to meet both their parental goals and children’s goals. Child custody lawyers can make the process of creating parenting plans easier, and provide more peace of mind through this tough transition.

Let Lawyers Help

When divorce parties are involved in a custody case they should reach an agreement about parenting time and decision-making that serves the best interests of the 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 each case with compassion and integrity. The team works toward child custody solutions with professionalism and excellence.

Posted January 14, 2019
by: MFL Team



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