Understanding Child Custody in California
A custodial parent is a party who has been given full physical and/or legal custody of a child by court order. A child custody determination means that a decree, a judgment or some other form of order of a court has been made in terms of the physical custody, the legal custody, or the visitation with a child.
Different Types of Child Custody in California
In California, our policy is for the parents to share custody of their child when and where ever possible. It is against state policy to alienate a child from one parent or allow a parent to dominate the relationship.
Most courts will strive for something known as “equal time-sharing”. This “time” can be divided in a number of different ways, though the two most common are the following 50% time-shares:
- A 2-2-5: In these situations, a child may be away from a parent for five days at a time
- For instance, one party will have the children Monday and Tuesday, while the other party will always have the children on Wednesday or Thursday
- The parties will alternate weekends
- A 2-2-3: In this scenario, a parent will have the children from Monday through Wednesday for week one
- In week two, a parent will have the children Wednesday through Friday
There are pros and cons to both types of equal time shares. With a 2-2-3, it can be difficult to enroll children in extracurricular activities because the dates are often shared (though if you are getting along with the other party, this may not be an issue). For parents with young children, being away for five days at a time may seem too long.
“Time-Sharing” Similar — But Not The Same — as Child Custody
Time-sharing is a term used to describe the product of child visitation and custody. How many days a party is going to be visiting a child or have custody will determine your time-share.
Parents Can Make the Ultimate Decision
In terms of child custody and who has the children when largely depends on what works best for the parents and the children. A lot of parents will opt with alternating weekend time-shares with a mid-week dinner. A mother with a newborn may have the child the majority of the time, but the father will stop by and visit for two hours three days a week. Parents may alternate summers, winter vacations and spring breaks.
When the Courts May Need to Get Involved
The best situations are typically when both parents can come to an agreement about how the children will spend their time with both parties. But if parents cannot come to an amicable agreement, then it may be necessary to go to court.
If you do choose to go to court, keep in mind that:
- The courts initially believe that equal custody is in the best interest of the child
- The courts will look at the behaviors of both parents when determining custody (i.e. if one party is sending terrible text messages to another or behaving immaturely, that will be factored into the decision)
- The court may or may not take a child’s preference into account
The court wants to provide your child with as much stability as possible. Because of this, the more stable a parent appears, the more likely he or she will be granted more custody than the other. For example, if one parent is abusing alcohol, taking drugs or is intimidating towards the children, he or she would be granted less time with the children, supervised visitation, or no visitation whatsoever.
Why Speak to an Attorney for Time-Sharing
There is a lot at stake should a parent choose to proceed with a child custody case. For example, if a parent has not been involved in the child raising process and now want 50% custody, there is a good chance that he or she will walk out with even less time with their child (which may only be every other weekend).
There are consequences to going into court, and an family law attorney will help you explore the likely outcome of your specific situation. If you have had a rocky past, for example, an attorney will explain that the courts may request what is known as a “730 evaluation.” This custody evaluation takes the background of a parent into account which may not be favorable for all parents.
What to Expect from Lavinsky Law
At Lavinsky Law, we want to get down to the issues as soon as possible. We will ask for the detailed specifics of your situation so that we can determine what is the best and most appropriate approach to take to ensure that you have the most time with your children.
Our focus is to open up the communication lines between both parents. If the other side is communicative, we will work with them to create a regular visitation schedule which is agreed upon and can then be presented in court.
If the other party is unreasonable or not communicative, we will then file immediately so that you can get back to being in your children’s life sooner.
Every client who walks into our office leaves understanding their entitlements, the likely outcomes of different approaches, and what an expert, seasoned family law attorney believes is in their best interest. We believe Brighter Days Are Ahead for you and your family with our representation.
To speak with a child custody attorney today, we invite you to contact us at (310) 274-2717.