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2018 Guide to Joint Custody in California

Joint custody is California’s preferred child custody situation, where possible. Though the laws do not change very frequently, sometimes the California legislature updates its child custody laws. As of the beginning of 2018, these rules have not changed, but there could always be updates or adjustments as the year goes on.

If there are rule changes that substantially affect your custody case, you may be entitled to have your child custody order modified. In this article, the Ventura child custody lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth will break down the current, 2018 laws for child support in California. If you need help with your child custody case, call our law offices today for a free consultation on your case. Our number is (805) 585-5056.

California Child Custody Laws 2018

Courts in California are responsible for deciding who gets the kids in a divorce or in cases where the parents are not married and live separately. In many cases, the courts will accept agreements the parties make. This means that if one parent does not want custody, courts will honor that. However, refusing to take custody does not mean you avoid paying child support, and will often result in higher child support payments since you do not share any out-of-pocket costs.

If both parents are willing to take custody, California courts actually prefer to give joint custody. “Joint custody” refers to a situation where each parent has some custody rights, but there is a broad range of situations this can refer to.

First, it is important to understand that there are two types of child custody. “Physical custody” refers to when your child actually lives with you in your home. On the other hand, “legal custody” is the right to be the child’s parent and make decisions in their life. You cannot have physical custody without also having legal custody.

In many families, one parent will have physical custody for more of the time. That parent is said to have “primary physical custody” and may be referred to as the “custodial parent.” However, legal custody is shared equally, and both parents have the same rights to make decisions in their children’s lives.

Courts often arrange child custody orders that award legal custody to both parents, but divide physical custody in a way that works best for the children. If one parent has a job and the other does not, the non-working parent has more free time to raise the children, and may be awarded physical custody for a greater portion of the year. The other parent may then get the kids on weekends, holidays, or for the summer. Arrangements like this are not even, but are still a form of joint custody.

California Shared Custody Rules 2018

Alternatively, parents in similar financial situations may alternate weeks, changing custody at the end of the week. If the parents live close enough together that this does not affect the children’s ability to stay at the same school, a plan like this might be appropriate.

Shared Custody Law in California

Shared legal custody can be a tricky situation, but is still the preferred outcome for California courts. It is important, in the eyes of the State, that children have both parents involved in their lives – and it is usually important to the parents that they have the right to make decisions in their children’s lives. Legal custody is the power to make decisions for large life issues, such as:

  • Medical care decisions,
  • Which school to attend,
  • What religion to practice,
  • Whether the child is vegetarian, and
  • What afterschool activities the child participates in.

On the other hand, day-to-day decisions are left to whichever parent has physical custody on that day. For instance, decisions about how the child gets to soccer practice, what they eat for dinner, or whether they can play with a friend after school are usually decisions left to the parent with physical custody.

Parents have equal rights to make these decisions, meaning there is often some collaboration or disagreement on these kinds of issues. For instance, parents may feel very strongly about their religious beliefs, but must either come to an agreement on what religion to raise their shared children or give each other room to teach their children both religions.

If the other parent is refusing to allow you to make decisions, you may be entitled to have a court enforce your opinion under your child custody order. While physical custody may go primarily to one parent, legal custody is shared equally. That means that even when your children live with the other parent, you still have the right to make certain, big decisions for your kids.

Ventura Child Custody Lawyers

The Ventura family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth work to help parents gain child custody, protect their custody rights, and enforce the decisions they make for their children. If you are interested in seeking joint custody after a divorce or need help enforcing your parental rights, talk to one of our lawyers today. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices at (805) 585-5056.

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