What child custody arrangements are possible in California?

12 Sep What child custody arrangements are possible in California?

In most divorces cases, child custody arrangements are usually a fractious point of contention between estranged partners. Custody arrangements recently have gone through a paradigm shift as gender roles have become less rigid. Father’s rights in general may be gaining increased recognition across the United States but determining child custody for unmarried couples is still an ensuing problem in California.

Child custody arrangements are divided into legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is defined as giving a parent or a guardian the right to make all decisions regarding health, education and religion on behalf of the minor child. Physical custody is given to the biological parent or guardian with whom the minor child resides. Legal custody may not be the same as physical custody in many cases.

In cases of sole custody or joint custody with one parent having primary custody, various visitation arrangements may be determined by the court:

  • Visitation may be scheduled. Under this agreement, visitation is predetermined with time and date of visitation clearly defined, including vacations, weekends and special occasions.
  • Reasonable visitation is another form of child custody arrangement where parents have a more autonomous method of determining visitation. The visitation schedule is flexible so it may not be the best option for an acrimonious divorce.
  • Supervised visitation may be court-ordered in cases where safety of the child or the custodial parent is in question due to prior history of domestic violence or aggression.

In some exceptional cases, one biological parent may not be given any visitation rights. The court can determine that the parent’s involvement with the child is not in the child’s best interest.

It may be a good idea for parents currently divorcing or in a child custody conflict to consult a legal professional. Divorce mediation, arbitration or even the traditional court system may be too convoluted to navigate alone during this turbulent time.

Source: Courts.CA.gov, “Custody & Parenting Time (Visitation),” Accessed on Sept. 4, 2014

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