Issues with Child custody arrangements? Although divorce and broken domestic partnerships are all too common in the country, your own experience is personal and potentially heart wrenching. Naturally, the most traumatic splits often involve children and custody arrangements. If you are seeking to end your relationship with a spouse or domestic partner and minor children are involved, it is imperative that you have an experienced family law attorney by your side from the beginning.
Considerations in Determining Child Custody Arrangements
California statute expressly commands that the best interests of the child be factored in when determining custody arrangements. A number of specific elements are included in this determination, with an eye toward consistency for the child:
- Age of the children;
- Relationship with other children in the home;
- Type and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child;
- Physical and/or mental health of everyone involved;
- Parent attitude toward facilitating an continuing relationship with the other parent;
- Care-giving history;
- Stable and loving setting;
- Physical environment and space;
- Ability to provide adequately for the emotional and physical needs of the child, including medical care;
- Current levels of attachment to the home, school, neighborhood, etc.;
- The child’s wishes, when old enough to express them;
- Domestic violence issues;
- Illegal drug use or abuse of legal substances;
- False accusations made by one parent against another.
Potential Child Custody Arrangements
Most people think of custody as having to do primarily with where the child lives, but there is another type of custody worth noting in California:
Legal custody refers to decision-making ability for the child. It may be awarded in one of two ways:
- Sole custody: One parent has the final say on all major health, education and welfare decisions;
- Joint custody: Parents share all major decisions.
Physical custody may be sole or joint as well. A parent having sole custody has the child most of the time and provides visitation with the non-custodial parent. In a joint custody arrangement, an attempt to provide equivalent amounts of time with each parent is made.
Custody arrangements are always particular to the specifics of each case. In fact, while one parent may have physical custody, the other may have legal custody. A judge whose primary consideration is the best interest of the child views each situation carefully.
In a situation in which one parent has less than half of the time with a child, visitation orders will be necessary. These comes in many variations, with four basic frameworks:
- No visitation: When physical or emotional harm is a risk;
- Supervised visitation: When a professional agency, another adult, or the other parent is required to be present during the visit to ensure the child’s safety;
- Scheduled visitation: When the court lays out a schedule in concert with both parents;
- Reasonable visitation: When parents work out an open-ended visitation agreement based on communications between them.