Any time a family goes through a legal separation or divorce, the legal proceedings can cause stress, uncomfortable tensions and difficult situations among all the family members. No matter how difficult a separation can be, it is important for parents to come together and plan for the future of their young children.

Unfortunately, not every divorcing/separating couple will be able to put their differences aside and when this happens, a family court will be left to decide, on their behalf, important issues such as custody, visitation and support. When a family court in the State of California decides custody arrangements for a family, the court will almost always decide in what is in the best interest of the minor.

California has four different types of custody that serve to determine who the child will live with and who will make the decisions on the child’s upbringing. It should be noted that there is a difference between custody rights and visitation rights, as child visitation determines how much time the child will spend with what parent.

The following is a brief overview of the four different types of child custody.

Sole Legal Custody

When sole legal custody is given to a parent, the court has granted this parent full right to make decisions for the minor. This right gives the parent the unilateral ability to make decisions on the minor’s religion, education, living arrangements, travel arrangements, health, and everyday life.

A family court will usually give sole custody to a parent when the other parent is absent in the child’s life. A court can also give this type of custody in the event that there is a high likelihood of continuous turmoil between both parents or if a Domestic Violence Restraining Order has been issued against one parent for the protection of the other parent or of the child.

Joint Custody

Joint legal custody is the opposite of sole custody, where both parents are given the right to make decisions with respect to the child’s upbringing. In order to achieve this type of custody, both parents will need to have the ability to maintain communication and co-parent together.

For many divorcing couples, joint legal custody can be difficult and it can also be very stressful. Joint legal custody, however, can offer many benefits for the child, as both parents are equally involved in the raising of the minor.

Sole Physical Custody

When a parent is awarded sole physical custody, the child will live with this parent. Sole physical custody can offer a child consistency and the ability to live a life without abrupt changes. When one parent is awarded sole custody, however, this does not mean that the other parent will be excluded from visiting the child.

Joint Physical Custody

Joint physical custody is given to both parents when both parents spend a substantial amount of time with the child. However, the Court will usually involve one primary custodial parent for residential purposes. Depending on the living distance between the parents, this could be problematic for the child as he or she may need to move frequently.

Obtain the Legal Support of an Experienced Family Law Attorney

A divorce or legal separation can be a difficult endeavor, especially when there are children involved. Planning for custody arrangements is vital. Indeed,even if planning is unattainable for your situation, it is important you prepare for what is in your best interest as well as the best interest of your children. Seek the legal advice of an attorney who can help you protect your interests and those of your children as well.

The attorneys at the RM Law Group, LLP are skilled in the area of child custody cases in the State of California. Obtain the support of an attorney who can help you make the right decisions for you and your family.