Child Custody and Visitation

The terms child custody and visitation deal with the parent’s rights and responsibilities to see and raise their children. In the event of divorce or separation when the parents of the child or children disagree, courts must choose which parent is best suited to have custody of the child, and which parent should have visitation and to what extent. In deciding both custody and visitation, a court must determine what is in the best interests of the child. To determine what is in the best interests of the child a court may consider the age and health of the child, the emotional attachment to one parent or the other, the ability for one parent or the other to care for the child’s emotional and financial needs, any history of domestic or drug abuse, as well as that child’s connection to their present home, school and community.

The Two Types of Custody:

The first is legal custody. When a parent is awarded legal custody of a child, that parent has the ultimate say in decisions such as where that child will reside, where they may travel, what school or childcare institution they will attend, and what religious activities they will practice. A court can find both parents to be legal guardians, which is referred to as joint legal custody. Parents with joint legal custody have an equal say in important child rearing decisions. If a court does not give joint legal custody, they will award sole legal custody to one parent. If a parent has sole legal custody, then they have the ultimate say in that child’s important life decisions.

The second is physical custody. This is best described as the parent who physically has the child. If the child lives with one parent for the majority of the time, that parent is presumed to be the primary residential parent of that child. However, the physical custody of the child may be split equally between the two parents. This is referred to as joint physical custody.

If parents do not agree about the custody of a child, a court must determine which parent has legal and physical custody.

In California, if the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, they are mandated to attend Mediation (in some jurisdictions) or Child Custody Recommending Counseling (in others). There are many ways to resolve child custody disputes outside of litigation and we strongly encourage you to contact our offices to discuss your options.

At Levine Law Group, we understand your children are your number one priority. Call us today to discuss your particular circumstances.

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