Everything you need to know about legal custody during your divorce process

It is very common to hear about child custody during the divorce process, this refers to the agreements, responsibilities and decision making about health, education, wellbeing, etc. of the child of parents that are separated or in the process of being separated.

In California there are two kinds of custody, legal custody and physical custody. It is recommended for both parents to share custody of their child. If an agreement is not reached, the parents will have to go to court, where a judge will decide whether the father or mother will have the custody, according with the child’s best interests and/or wellbeing.

To determine who will have the child’s custody, the judge will consider a variety of factors, which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The child’s wishes (if he or she is old enough to make decisions)
  • Frequency of visits and contact with both parents
  • The ability of both parents of getting along
  • The residence of both parents
  • Work hours
  • Income
  • Previous criminal convictions of the parents

Legal custody can either be joint or sole:

  • Joint legal custody is when both parents have the right and responsibility of making decisions about the child’s wellbeing.
  • Sole legal custody is when only one parent has the right and responsibility of making decisions related to the child’s wellbeing.

On the other hand, physical custody refers to with who and where the child will be living after the separation. The parent with physical custody has the right to have his or her child physically living in his or her residence, and the parent without custody has visitation rights and the right to spend time with the child. Nevertheless, if the parents do reach an agreement, they can acquire joint physical custody, in which both parents have the right to equally share time with their child. If an agreement is not reached, a judge will determine which parent will have primary physical custody.

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