CHILD CUSTODY IN CALIFORNIA: Child Custody In California guidelines are provide here so that you can familiarize yourself with and gain some knowledge about Child Custody proceedings in California. The following Child Custody In California Guidelines for is provided for you if you choose to file for Child Custody without the intervention of an attorney. We can help you with filing for Child Custody by assisting you with the preparation of your paper work. Child Custody paper forms and the additional paperwork can be a daunting and arduous task if you are trying to complete it on your own. Another way we offer Child Custody support, is by offering you the option of filing your proceedings for you, in order for you to save time and not have to deal with the long lines at the court.
Remember: the best plan is a plan that is good for your children. Change is hard for children. Research tells us that if both parents are active in their kids’ lives and do not fight over custody and visitation schedules, the children will usually do much better. Historically, courts favored mothers when granting custody, but California focuses on the health, safety and welfare of the child. Judges base custody decisions on what is in the best interests of the child, and neither parent is preferred based on gender. Courts look closely at which parent was the primary caregiver, reviewing who took the children to school and doctor’s appointments, picked them up from school, helped with homework and planned daily activities.
Presumption In California, there is no presumption that a mother is entitled to custody of her child. Both parents are equally entitled to custody of a minor child. The court’s primary concern is the “necessary or proper” arrangement for the child, not the gender of the parent. In fact, the state of California presumes that joint custody is most often in the best interests of the child. It is up to the parents to either work together to create a joint custody and visitation plan that works, or to file for a different custody arrangement.
Best Interests of the Child Under California Family Code, Section 3011, judges evaluate several factors before making custody decisions in the best interests of the child. These factors include the child’s health, safety and welfare; any history of abuse; the nature and amount of contact the child has had with the parents; and drug use by either parent. In addition, the judge will take into consideration the opinions and preferences of children if she deems it in their best interest. The law generally provides this option for children 14 or older, but the court will hear from younger children in certain cases.
Unwed Mothers Under California Family Code Section 7610, an unwed mother automatically gains custody of her child upon birth. No legal action is required to assert her custodial rights. She is solely responsible for providing for her child and making decisions regarding his living arrangements, health care and education. Barring any court order, the mother determines what, if any contact, the father has with the child. However, unless paternity is established, the mother has no right to child support from the father in this situation. Paternity As with married or divorced mothers, custody rights for an unwed mother include financial support from the child’s father. However, proof of paternity is required in order to initiate child support proceedings. When parents are married, paternity is automatically established when a child is born. An unwed mother needs to prove paternity in order to establish her rights to child support from the birth father; to access to his family medical records and health insurance; and to any of his government benefits. Fathers can voluntarily fill out a declaration of paternity at birth or after the mother initiates child support proceedings. If the paternity is contested, California law allows a mother to file papers in family court ordering the presumed father to take a paternity test.
There are two kinds of custody: legal and physical.
Legal custody Legal custody in California means who makes the decisions about the children’s health, education and welfare. This includes deciding where the children go to school or whether they should get braces on their teeth. If the parents share joint legal custody, both parents can ask schools and doctors for information about the children. It is important to be clear about who makes which decisions so that there is no disagreement later on.
Physical custody Physical custody refers to the time the children spend with each parent on a regular basis. For example, the children may be with one parent on school days and the other on weekends plus a mid-week dinner visit. The parents can split the holidays and vacation periods. Sometimes, if the parents live near each other and they get along as parents, the children go back and forth without an exact schedule. Most parents need a schedule. Joint physical custody is a good choice for parents who can agree on a plan on their own or with a mediator’s help. It requires cooperation, flexibility and good communication between the parents. Sometimes, a judge gives both parents joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody. This means both parents have equal responsibility for important decisions in the children’s lives. But, the children live with one parent most of the time. The parent who does not have physical custody usually has scheduled time with the children.
How Does Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody Determine My Visitation Rights? Joint Legal Custody is where both parents share the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children. This includes deciding where the children go to school or whether they should get braces on their teeth. If the parents share joint legal custody, both parents can ask schools and doctors for information about the children. It is important to be clear about who makes which decisions so that there is no disagreement later on. Sole Legal Custody, is where only one (1) parent has the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children. Parents with legal custody make decisions or choices about their children’s:
Parents who share legal custody both have the right to make decisions about these aspects of their children’s lives, but they do not have to agree on every decision. Either parent can make a decision alone. But to avoid having problems and ending up back in court, both parents should communicate with each other and cooperate in making decisions together Physical custody can be:
Joint physical custody does not mean that the children must spend exactly half the time with each parent. Usually the children spend a little more time with 1 parent than the other because it is too hard to split the time exactly in half. When 1 parent has the children more than half of the time, then that parent is sometimes called the “primary custodial parent.” Sometimes, a judge gives parents joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody. This means that both parents share the responsibility for making important decisions in the children’s lives, but the children live with 1 parent most of the time. The parent who does not have physical custody usually has visitation with the children. The law says that judges must give custody according to what is in the “best interest of the child.” To decide what is best for a child, the court will consider:
Courts do not automatically give custody to the mother or the father, no matter what the age or sex of your children. Courts cannot deny your right to custody or visitation just because you were never married to the other parent, or because you or the other parent has a physical disability or a different lifestyle, religious belief, or sexual orientation. In addition to custody orders, the judge will probably also make child support orders. Keep in mind that a child support order is separate from child custody and visitation, so you cannot refuse to let the other parent see the children just because he or she is not making the child support payments that the court ordered. And you cannot refuse to pay child support just because the other parent is not letting you see your children. But child support and custody are related because the amount of time each parent spends with the children will affect the amount of child support For the most part, courts have relaxed the meaning of joint custody vs. sole custody over the recent years. The main difference is that with sole custody, the parent that is the residential parent makes the majority of the everyday decisions without needing to consult the non-custodial parent for permission. This includes after school activities like sports or band, and also includes such minor routine things as what dentist the child may see as well. Whether a joint or sole custody agreement has been made, both parents must be present for the big decisions in the child’s life. Whether you are the non-custodial parent in a joint custody or sole custody situation you still have rights to visitation with your child. Do not ever believe that simply because one parent has sole custody that you are not able to have parenting time with them; this is untrue. Courts want to grant visitation rights to non-custodial parents in an amount as close to 50% as possible, if possible, based on geographic location, school district and other factors, so long as it does not disrupt the child’s schedule.—In many states, visitation interference is now a crime!
This is information provided on this page regarding divorce in California is directly sourced from the California Courts Judical Branch of California and the calbar.ca.gov