Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements – California Family Code Section 3000 – 3007

There are different types of child custody orders a judge may grant. The judge will grant a child custody order in accordance to whether living with you, the other parent, or both would be detrimental to your child. In addition, the judge would take into consideration the best interest of your child when granting child custody orders.

There are two types of child custody orders: legal custody and physical custody

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to whether you, the other parent, or both have the right and responsibility to make important decisions about your child’s health, education, and welfare. There are two types of legal custody orders:

  •  Sole Legal Custody (Cal. Fam. Code § 3006): A sole legal custody order means “one parent shall have the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child.” Thus, either you or the other parent has the exclusive right to make all the important decisions regarding your child such as where your child attends school, what religion your child will practice, medical decisions, travel plans, and residence.
  •  Joint Legal Custody (Cal. Fam. Code § 3003): A joint legal custody order means “both parents shall share the right and responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child.” Thus, you and the other parent can make decisions about your child.

In the vast majority of cases, courts prefer to grant joint legal custody orders to allow you and the other parent to be involved in your child’s life, and to give you and the other parent equal input and influence in the important decisions regarding your child’s health, education, and welfare.

However, it is important to note that if you and the other parent are granted joint legal custody and you and the other parent cannot agree on an issue relating to the health, education and welfare of your child, you and the other parent must return to court and have the judge decide what is in your child’s best interest. In these situations, it is critical that you first confer with an experienced Wallin and Klarich child custody attorney to assist you in how to proceed.

In some situations the court will decide that you or the other parent should not be granted joint legal custody. This is often the case when either you or the other parent is incarcerated, has a history of serious mental health issues, has a history of domestic violence or for any other reason the judge feels you or the other parent should not be making decisions as to your child’s health, education and welfare.

Physical Custody

A physical custody order refers to which parent the child will reside with. There are two types of physical custody orders:

  •  Primary Physical Custody (Cal. Fam. Code § 3007): A sole physical custody arrangement means “the child will reside with and be under the supervision of one parent, subject to the power of the court to order visitation.” Thus, your child will live with a custodial parent, which could be you or the other parent. If you have primary physical custody, the other parent will likely be granted “visitation rights”.
  •  Joint Physical Custody (Cal. Fam. Code § 3004): A joint physical custody arrangement means “that each parent shall have significant periods of physical custody.” According to the provision, the goal of joint physical custody is to ensure your child will have frequent and continuing contact with you and the other parent. Thus, your child will reside with you and the other parent, but the time may not be divided equally due to obligations such as school and work.

Visitation Rights

There are different types of visitation orders:

  1. Visitation according to a schedule: If the other parent has visitation rights, this visitation order establishes the exact days and times the other parent will spend with your child.
  2. Reasonable Visitation: This order allows visitation to be open-ended. Under this arrangement, you and the other parent can be flexible on visitation days and times.
  3. Supervised Visitation: If your child’s safety and well-being could be harmed, the parent with visitation rights might be supervised when spending time with the child. If the other parent has visitation rights, the other parent can be supervised by you, another adult, or by a professional agency.

It is important to remember that with visitation orders, in some very difficult and complex child custody cases, courts would rather grant a specific visitation order detailing the days and times you and the other parent spends with your child in order to avoid ongoing litigation as to what is “reasonable” visitation.

Sole Custody

A sole child custody order grants both physical and legal custody of your child exclusively to you or the other parent. If you are designated by the court as the primary custodial parent, you would have exclusive legal and physical custody of the child. Thus, your child would live with you, while the other parent would be given visitation rights if the judge determines it to be in the best interest of your child. Also, you would have the exclusive right to make all the important decisions for your child, such as education, health, and welfare.

Joint Custody

California Family Code Section 3002 defines joint custody as having both joint physical custody and joint legal custody. Under the joint custody arrangement, you and the other parent have equal right to make the important decisions regarding your child’s health, education, and welfare. In addition, your child will reside with you and the other parent, but the time may not be divided equally. This is because it is very difficult to split time exactly evenly when there are commitments, such as school and work.

Changing Your Custody Arrangements

child custody move away

You can still change your child custody arrangements; they are never final.

A judgment for child custody is never final. Sometimes, the child custody arrangements you made the first time stop working. Most often, that’s because of a normal change in circumstances for you, your child or the other parent. Custody orders may also need to be modified in some cases where one parent interferes with the other parent’s custody or visitation rights. If you need help changing your custody order, Wallin & Klarich can help.

California law recognizes that circumstances change as people move on and children grow older. Either parent can petition the court for a modification of a custody order that no longer works. In order to have such a petition granted in California, however, you must be able to show that there’s been a substantial change in your circumstances. Some changes that may result in a granted petition include:

  • Changes in the child’s school or other routine activities.
  • A new job for one parent that makes parenting harder.
  • Military deployment.
  • Evidence that the other parent’s home is a dangerous environment. (This can include allegations of substance abuse, violence, neglect, criminal behavior and sexual abuse — but you must be able to prove these allegations by a preponderance of the evidence at the hearing.)
  • The other parent refusing to cooperate with you when it comes to decisions as as to the health, education and welfare of your child.
  • An out-of-area move by one parent. More on this below.

Wallin & Klarich can help you petition the court formally for a change in custody. We also help parents fight unwelcome or unreasonable requests to modify custody. Uncontested petitions to change custody are routinely granted and won’t require much time or work from you. But if the petition to change custody is contested by the other parent, you will likely end up in a court hearing.

Emergency Temporary Jurisdiction

Even when another state or county has jurisdiction over your case and custody proceedings have already been brought in that court, a California court may exercise temporary jurisdiction over the child if (1) the child is present in the state of California AND (2) the child has been abandoned (left without provision for reasonable and necessary care or supervision); OR (3) it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, the child’s sibling or parent is being subjected to or threatened with mistreated abuse, which includes domestic violence.

This is important when there is an emergency and a child is in immediate risk of danger if they are returned to the other parent’s care.

Emergency temporary jurisdiction cannot be based on unsubstantiated allegations, but a full and fair evidentiary hearing must be heard on the issue of mistreatment or abuse in order for the court to assert jurisdiction under the UCCJEA.

The time period for emergency jurisdiction is only temporary if another court has already made custody orders. The California courts emergency order only remains in effect until an order is obtained from the other court within the specified period or that period expires.

Most people do not know the rules and guidelines of when emergency temporary jurisdiction can be used to be granted temporary custody to protect the child so it is important to retain a Los Angeles emergency temporary jurisdiction attorney that is knowledgeable in the field.

Requests To Move Away

One child custody change that frequently stirs up bad feelings is a move out of the area by a custodial or joint-custody parent. This can result in a contested court hearing, especially if one parent believes the other is making the move to interfere with custody or visitation. In order to stop an out-of-area move in California, the other parent must be able to show evidence that the move is not in the child’s best interests. This evidence could include evidence that the other parent is moving in order to deny visitation or custody to you. It also can include that the move will negatively impact the minors schooling, relationship with his family members or remove him from a loving and stable environment. If the other parent isn’t fighting the move, but both parents want to change the custody plan, the parent who is moving must petition the court for a change. Those petitions are routinely granted.

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Contact our child custody attorneys today

Child custody cases are very difficult and complex to understand. If you are in a custody battle for your child, you need an experienced child custody attorney to guide you through the legal process. The skilled child custody lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have the knowledge and experience you need to achieve the best result in your case. With over 30 years of experience in child custody cases, you can rely on Wallin & Klarich.

With offices located throughout the Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney available for you wherever you live. Please call us at (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.

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