FAQ: What is a Shared Custody Arrangement in California and How Does it Work? There are several types of custody arrangements that may be ordered by the California courts: sole custody and joint custody being the main two. Shared custody, also called joint custody, is when both parents share custody of their child(ren). Custody in California is divided into two parts: a schedule for when the child spends time with each parent, and a plan for how the parents will make decisions for their shared children.
Physical Custody & Legal Custody in OC CA
Both kinds of custody can be awarded either jointly to both parents, or solely to one parent. Just because one is awarded solely does not mean that the other will be awarded solely to one parent, and just because one is awarded jointly does not mean that the other will also be jointly awarded.
Physical custody refers to where the child spends his or her time. If both parents have joint physical custody, it means that the child will live with both parents for some of the time. The child will not necessarily spend equal amounts of time with both parents, but it should be close to equal. The parent with whom the child lives most of the time may be called the primary custodial parent.
Legal custody refers to who gets to make important decisions for the child, including decisions about the child’s physical and mental health and wellbeing, education, extracurricular activities, religion, travel, etc. If both parents are awarded joint legal custody, it means that they both have the right to make important decisions for the child. This can create some conflict if the parents do not agree on the best way to raise a child, but the parents do not need to make every decision together.
What is it Like Sharing Legal Custody of a Child in California?
While this does not mean that you need to check with the other parent before making every single decision, it does mean that you should work with the other parent to make decisions that make the child’s life simpler.
Usually, small routine decisions will be made by either parent when the child spends time with that parent. Things like what to eat for dinner, or when it’s bedtime can be left up to each individual parent. However, some decisions will require the parents to work together.
When the court awards joint legal custody to two parents, the custody order should also specify certain situations under which both parents need to agree or give consent in order to make a decision regarding the child. Neither parent has the authority to make a decision against the physical custody order.
In simpler terms, every custody order is different, and the court can designate certain situations which require both parents to give consent, and those that are not mentioned do not require consent.
In most situations the following decisions will need to be made jointly by the parents, and neither parent shall make a decision regarding any of the following without the consent of the other parent.
• Physical health care, including primary doctor, dentist, orthodontia, etc.,
• Mental health care,
• Extracurricular activities,
• Other issues that may be specified by the custody order.
In a joint legal custody situation, both parents are to have access to all health, education, and legal documents, activities, and records regarding the child. When emergency care is necessary, the parent who provides it should inform the other parent as soon as possible.
Both parents should also have contact information for the other parent and for the child while he or she is in the custody of the other parent. This information includes a home and business address, phone number, and digital contact information, as well as the information of any place the child may be, such as a daycare facility or family member’s home.
Neither parent can make a decision that will interfere with the other parent’s rights as far as physical custody or visitation.
What is it Like Sharing Physical Custody of a Child in OC California?
When two parents have joint physical custody of a shared child, it means that the child lives with both parents. The child may not spend 50 percent of his or her time with each parent; this is not usually a realistic option. However, it should be close to 50/50 in a joint custody situation.
Every custody and parenting plan is made individually, and each one is made in the best interest of the individual child. The specific amount of time that the child will spend with each parent can vary depending on each individual situation but there should be close to equal amounts of time with each parent.
Joint custody works best when the parents live close to one another, and the child can easily travel between the two homes. Sharing custody of a child requires the parents to work together.
• Using a calendar, perhaps a shared digital calendar that alerts both parents when the child moves from one home to the other, can help parents stay organized.
• Keeping a routine schedule can help the children know what to expect and when they will be staying at each parent’s home.
• It is important for both parents to listen to the other parent’s point of view and opinions. If the other parent needs to reschedule, work with them as best you can - one day it will be you who needs to reschedule.
• As the children get older, the parenting plan will need to be modified. The children’s lives will become busier, the child will become more independent, either parent may remarry and add to their family, and custody agreements will need to change.
Sharing joint physical custody of a child also limits the parents’ freedom to alter their own lives if they wish to retain physical custody of the child. Move away cases, when either parent wishes to move far enough from the other parent that the child cannot easily travel between their homes, may affect the moving parent’s ability to move as he or she wishes while retaining custody.
If either parent wishes to move away in a joint custody situation, the burden rests with that parent to prove that the custody order should be modified.
If you have questions about sharing custody in Orange County, contact the custody attorneys at Yanez & Associates to schedule a free initial consultation.
Table of Contents
- 1 Shared Custody Arrangements in Orange County California and How they Work
- 2 Physical Custody & Legal Custody in OC CA
- 3 What is it Like Sharing Legal Custody of a Child in California?
- 4 What is it Like Sharing Physical Custody of a Child in OC California?
- 5 To learn more on "What is a Shared Custody Arrangement in California" contact our Child Custody Attorneys in Orange County