The wellbeing of our children is generally our highest concern. In a family law case, the Court share’s this sentiment. However, in California, the Court’s focus is not necessarily on what each parent may want but rather on the “best interests” of a child.
WHAT ARE THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD?
Although frequent and continuing contact with both parents is usually considered to be in the “best interests” of a child, this principal is not appropriate in every case. Absent an agreement between the parents, a judge tasked with making custody and visitation orders will normally consider various important factors that have a bearing on a child’s wellbeing, including the following:
- The care provided by each parent;
- Living environments in each parent’s home;
- Abuse of drugs/alcohol and physical abuse (if any);
- Criminal histories of parents (if any);
- A child’s special needs (if any);
- The relationship the child has with each parent;
- The distance between the homes of the parents;
- A child’s preference (if the child is of sufficient age and maturity).
LEGAL CUSTODY & PHYSICAL CUSTODY
Child custody is made up of two parts: legal custody and physical custody. Both are an important part of any family law case that involves minor children.
Legal custody refers to parental decision-making. It concerns decisions that parents make about their child’s education, healthcare, extracurricular activities, religious practices, etc. In most cases, legal custody is “joint,” meaning that it is equally shared between the parents and both parents have a say in the important aspects of their child’s life. However, in some instances—such as when one parent is physically abusive or is struggling with substance abuse problems—the Court may award legal custody only to one parent.
Physical custody simply refers to where the child lives. Like legal custody, physical custody can be equally shared, with the child spending approximately 50% of his/her time in the care of each parent. However, in some cases, whether by agreement between the parents or by court order, children will live primarily with one parent and the other parent will care for the children through a predetermined visitation schedule.
With the help of a skilled attorney, many parents are able to reach an amicable agreement concerning the detailed schedule that will determine the amount of time that each of them with have with their children. Reaching an agreement on a visitation schedule is generally best for both the parents and their children. That is why the Court will usually encourage both parents to work together to come on an agreement.
However, agreeing on a visitation schedule in some cases is easier said than done. Given the far-reaching impact of the visitation schedule on the lives of the children and their parents, it is especially important to have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney for this aspect of any family law case.
At The Kurta Law Firm, we have the experience, tenacity, and attention to detail that have consistently proven instrumental in helping our clients secure favorable custody and visitation order, whether by agreement or by order of the Court. We work tirelessly to protect our clients’ parental rights. Whether we are negotiating settlement agreements or resolving disputes, our results-oriented approach to legal representation means your desired legal outcomes are always our top priority.
If you are looking to either establish a custody and visitation order or to modify an existing order, and you would like to ensure that your parental rights are protected, we invite you to give us a call at (925) 385-8586 for an informative consultation with an experienced family law attorney at The Kurta Law Firm.