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How is Child Custody Determined in California?

When making child custody decisions in California, the court's number one priority is to make sure it is in the child's best interests. This means keeping the child safe and secure. Ultimately, determining what custody rulings will be in the child's best interests matters more than anything else to California courts.

For parents just starting the process, child custody can be a confusing term. Our Newport Beach child custody lawyer at The Law Office of Timothy M. Ghobrial is here to explain what child custody is and what factors courts look at in order to determine how to award custody in this guide.

What Type of Custody is Available in California?

There are two types of custody in California - legal and physical. Either type of custody can be awarded solely to one parent or jointly to both.

Legal custody means having the ability to make important decisions for the child. More specifically, legal custody gives parents the right to make decisions regarding the child's:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Day-to-day care
  • General well-being

Physical custody, on the other hand, simply means where the child resides. If parents have joint physical custody, typically, the child will spend equal amounts of time with each parent. In sole or primary physical custody, typically, the child will live with one parent most of the time and usually have visitation time with the other parent.

Parents can make custody decisions on their own without help from the court as long as they both agree to their proposed agreement. The plan must be in writing and submitted to the court for final approval. Typically, the court will approve of the agreement as long as it is in the child's best interests.

However, if either parent doesn't agree, the court will make the ultimate decision on how to grant physical and legal custody. In most cases, the judge will prefer that both parents be involved in custody because it ensures the child can have an active and ongoing relationship with each parent. This is important to the court because research has shown that it is generally best for children to have both parents in their lives.

How is Custody Determined?

To determine physical and legal custody, California courts look at several factors to ensure their decision will be in the child's best interests.

Factors the court will look at when determining custody include:

  • The age and health of the child and the parents.
  • The emotional ties the child has to each parent.
  • Whether there any is a history of violence or substance abuse in the home of either parent.
  • Where the child is primarily residing and their ties to their school, home, and community.
  • Anything else that could impact custody.

Joint custody is preferred by the court when possible. However, the court will have to look at the specific factors of the case before they decide if joint custody is still in the best interests of the child. If joint custody would put the child in harm's way at all, then the court will likely award sole custody. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the child is safe, happy, and healthy.

Speak to a Skilled Newport Beach Child Custody Lawyer Today

If you are battling a child custody matter, it is crucial you contact a Newport Beach child custody attorney immediately. At The Law Office of Timothy M. Ghobrial, our skilled attorney will help you understand the process while guiding you on the following steps to take.

We understand how important your family is to you, which is why we are dedicated to doing everything in our power to make sure you and your child's rights and interests are always protected. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the California child custody process.

Call us today at (949) 751-1420 to discuss your California child custody case.

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