Child Custody and Visitation
The Basics of Child Custody and Visitation
When parents file for a legal separation or divorce, it’s safe to say that this is going to have an impact on their children. If they are unable to decide on who has custody, then it will be handed over to a judge to make the decision for them. When determining child custody and visitation rights in the state of California, you need to know that there are certain factors that courts take into consideration.
Strong Family Law in located in Walnut Creek, CA and can help determine if those factors will play a role in the court’s decision.
Determining Custody and Visitation
When a judge is determining who should have custody of a child or children, she or he has to consider what decision will be in the child’s/children’s best interests. Divorce cases involving children are considerably more complex than cases where only spouses are involved. The court will also decide on visitation rights and how each parent is going to share time with their children.
As mentioned above, there are certain factors that might play a role when the judge determines child custody and visitation rights. The decision will based on the child’s best interests and the following will be considered:
- child’s/children’s wishes provided they have reached a certain age (it’s usually over 12 years of age in California)
- history of domestic violence
- history of drug abuse or addiction
- which parent encourages frequently visiting with the other
The reality is that a children have certain rights (depending on their age) when their parents are going through a divorce. In some cases, they have the right tell the court who they want to live with. Generally, they have the right to spend and enjoy time with each spouse provided they are cared for and safe. Children’s safety and well-being is paramount. Strong Family Law and their staff can assist you in this area of the process.
Two Forms of Legal Custody
When it comes down to child custody and visitation, these issues typically fall into one of two categories – “legal” and “physical” custody. Legal custody entails the following:
- Joint custody – both parents have the right to share the responsibility of important decision making regarding the education, health, and welfare of the child/children.
- Sole custody – only one of the parents has the responsibility and the right to make such decisions.
Furthermore, parents with joint or sole custody can make choices and decisions about their child’s/children’s:
- child or school care
- extracurricular activities, e.g. sports, summer camp, travel, vacations, etc.
- healthcare professionals, e.g. dentist, orthodontist, physician, etc.
- mental health inclusive of psychiatric or psychological counseling or therapy
- place of residence or where they will be living
- religion and related activities
While parents with joint custody both have the right to share in the decision making process, they are not required to agree on each decision. At times one parent will made a decision without the other’s input. In this case, we advise communicating the decision to the other parent in order to avoid disagreements and going back to court. We have seen that in several cases, a harmonious custody arrangement unravels when communication breaks down. That is why we advise making most, if not all decisions regarding the children’s well-being together.
Divorce is a complex and challenging process. However, when child custody and visitation rights are involved, it tends to make matters even more complicated. And for that very reason, it’s important to seek legal advice from an experienced family attorney. Please contact Strong Family Law today to schedule a Free Consultation. We’re here to help.