When we speak of “child custody” in California, we’re really talking about two different things: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the power to make major decisions regarding a child’s life, such as choices about religion, medical care, and education. Physical custody refers to the parent with whom a child lives.
Often, parents are able to agree upon a custody arrangement in a divorce, and courts will typically honor such agreements. This is ideal, because parents know more about their children and their needs than a court possibly can, and parents have the flexibility to create an arrangement that works best for their family’s needs. If parents cannot agree, even after mediation of the issue, the decision is in the court’s hands. California courts decide custody based on “the best interests of the child.”
California considers it to be in a child’s best interests to have a strong relationship with both parents. In support of this public policy, California law tends to favor joint physical custody. If one parent has primary physical custody, meaning the child lives with one parent more than half the time, the other parent should have sufficient parenting time with the child to allow their relationship to remain strong. Sole physical custody is not favored in California, and is granted only under certain limited circumstances, such as when one parent is incarcerated.
At Shaffer & Associates, we understand that a custody dispute can be the most stressful part of a divorce or separation, and we are committed to helping you through it. We assist you in evaluating your family's needs and how best to approach your particular facts to achieve your goals. We provide information about the process and the likely outcomes of various choices you may make, and we offer guidance and advice that will assist you in making the best decisions concerning your children.
Due to custody issues being so vital to individuals in a divorce or other family law proceeding, California custody matters can be very intimidating for parents. We understand how important it is to our clients that we be accessible to them and responsive to their questions. We give you not only legal representation and information, but the support you need to make it through an unfamiliar and often daunting legal process.
Our extensive experience in this area has taught us that reaching agreement on custody issues is almost always better for our clients, and especially for their children. Sometimes, however, the opposing party is unwilling to reach a reasonable agreement that is in the children's best interests. In those cases, we will take the matter to trial so that we can advocate as aggressively as necessary to protect the rights of our clients and their children.
The San Diego attorneys of Shaffer & Associates represent clients in California child custody cases in San Diego County and the surrounding communities, including Orange County, Riverside County and Los Angeles County. Contact Shaffer & Associates online or call (619) 595-3167 today to discuss how we may be of help in your case.