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What are the types of child custody?

When a couple with children splits up, the first question on their mind may be, “Who gets the kids?” In California, there are many factors to consider when determining child custody & support.

First, you should be aware that there are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to who the child will be living with post-split. Legal custody refers to who will be making decisions relating to the child’s care. This means that the parent or parents with legal custody will be able to decide where the child goes to school, what religion they will be raised on, what their after-school activities will be and the type of medical care they will receive.

Generally, the courts will decide whether to award physical and legal custody to one or both parents. When the court grants physical custody or legal custody to just one parent, that is referred to as sole custody. When both parents are granted physical and/or legal custody, that is joint custody.

A parent with sole physical custody will be responsible for the everyday care of the child since the child will be primarily living in their house. The other parent will receive visitation rights and will likely have to pay child support. Courts may encourage sole physical custody in many cases to save the child from having to travel back and forth between houses during the school year. However, they may allow more lenient visitation rights for the non-custodial parent, meaning that they may be allowed to be more involved in the daily activities of the child. Courts generally encourage joint legal custody so that both parents can make important decisions regarding their child’s upbringing.

When courts make child custody decisions, their focus is always on what is in the best interest of the child.

Source: FindLaw, “The Various Types of Child Custody,” accessed on Aug. 22, 2017

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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law
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Redwood City, CA 94063

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