Custody Attorney: Everything You Need to Know About Child Custody

Parents of a minor child who are neither involved nor residing together will need to determine where the child will reside, where the child will attend school or child care, and other major decisions affecting the child. Sometimes parents may reach an agreement  regarding their minor child, but other times, they may need assistance from the court. Rick D. Banks is an experienced custody attorney and can help you throughout the child custody process.

Custody Order Types

California has two types of child custody:

  • Legal Custody – who will make arrangements concerning the child’s education, health and welfare
  • Physical Custody – with whom the child will reside

A knowledgeable custody attorney can help you come to the custody agreement that best suits your family.

Legal Custody

Legal custody could be joint or solo. Joint legal custody is when both of the parents share the rights and responsibilities to make major decisions concerning the child’s welfare, health, and education. Sole legal custody is when one parent is responsible and has rights towards the child. These vital decisions include:

  • Child care
  • School
  • Religious activities or institutions
  • Mental health therapy or counseling, if needed
  • Health professional care, such as pediatrician, dentist, and eye doctor
  • Travel
  • Sports, vacation, extracurricular activities, and summer camp
  • Residence (where the child will live)

Parents with joint legal custody have the right to determine the issues listed above but they don’t need to agree on every single item except those the court expressly enumerated. For the benefit for the child and to maintain a cordial relationship, parents should cooperate and communicate with one another to avoid needing to go to court. A custody attorney can help negotiate appropriate legal custody terms.

Physical Custody

Similarly, physical custody could be joint or single. Joint physical custody is when the children live with both of their parents. Solo or primary physical custody is when for the majority of the time, the children reside with one parent and may visit the other parent.

The children may not live with each parent equally if the parents have joint physical custody. Sometimes, the children may reside with one parent more because it is difficult to divide the time evenly. Further, depending on various factors, including the age of the child and with whom the child spent more time prior to the couple’s split, the child may reside with the primary caretaker more until the child is older. The primary custodial parent is the parent with whom the child resides with the majority of the time. A custody attorney can help you establish a physical custody and visitation arrangement that is appropriate for your family.

What Can Affect Custodial Rights

California courts must consider the “best interest of the child” when deciding custody cases. They have two guiding policies:

  • Primary concern is the child’s health, safety, and welfare; and,
  • Child’s benefit from frequent and continuing contact with both parents.

Within the two policies’ parameters, the judge may consider any factor related to parenting, taking into account all facts and circumstances. For example, a court may not grant any custodial rights or visitation, or may limit visitation rights, to a parent if that parent abused drugs or alcohol, was always absent, committed domestic violence, was convicted of certain types of physical or sexual child abuse, or has a mental disorder. 

Talk to an Experienced Custody Attorney

If you’re deciding your own parenting arrangements with respect to both legal and physical custody, or if you need assistance in obtaining child custody or modifying a custody order, call a skilled custody attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks at (559) 222-4891 for help.