In California, courts prefer to give both parents custody whenever possible. Joint custody cases where both parents have equal parenting time are commonly said to have “50/50 custody.” The Ventura child custody lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth discuss joint custody and what it takes to get 50/50 custody in California.
Is Joint Custody the Same as 50/50 Custody?
To understand child custody rights, it is important to understand that there are actually two types of child custody. The legal right to be listed as a parent and make decisions in your child’s life is known as “legal custody.” This gives you the ability to make broad, important choices in your child’s life, such as what religion they will practice and what school they will go to, and it gives you control over healthcare decisions.
When parents have joint legal custody, both parents typically share these rights and have equal rights to make these decisions. This may mean both parents need to be consulted and come to an agreement on difficult issues – or else the court can help work out a compromise. Losing legal custody strips you of legal control, but you may still need to pay child support.
“Physical custody” refers to the right to have your child live in your house with you. When people discuss joint custody, this is commonly what they mean. Alternatively, in cases where one parent loses physical custody, they may still get visitation rights. This allows them to see their children and get to know them, but not to take them home and have them stay there for a prolonged time.
In most cases with joint physical custody, one parent may have the children for more time than the other. The parent with more time is referred to as the “primary custodial parent,” or just the “custodial parent.” “Custodial parent” may also refer to the parent who currently has physical custody.
50/50 custody is the ideal for many courts. Courts prefer to see both parents involved in their children’s lives if they are willing to be parents. Along with this comes the expectation that both parents should have equal rights and access to their children. However, many factors get in the way of this.
Ultimately, pure 50/50 custody is not that common, with many cases ending up with splits that favor one parent or the other. It is hard to divide time equally, and things like work and school typically make it easier for one parent to have the kids during the week and for the other to get the kids on alternating weekends. Other plans also exist, such that the time split may be more like 60/40 or 70/30. In any case, splits like these are all forms of joint physical custody.
How to Get 50/50 Custody in California
As mentioned, getting 50/50 custody can be hard. Typically, custody divisions are counted by the number of overnights each parent spends with their children. For 50/50 custody, you must each get 182.5 overnights, which is already complicated because of the half day. When it comes to splitting holidays and other important days (like birthdays), you must also alternate these from year to year or holiday to holiday to ensure both parents get equal time – but then parents inevitably miss something.
50/50 custody is easiest when the parents live close together and can alternate more easily. Many 50/50 custody situations see children alternate which house they go to after school every few days so that they spend equal time with each parent. If this involves too much switching, children might alternatively switch houses every week or every two weeks. More complex schemes also arise to accommodate different schedules.
The logistics of joint custody are an important factor in determining whether joint custody is possible. If one parent lives far away from the children’s school, the kids cannot skip school every other week or attend a different school just so the parents can have custody. Courts take these kinds of factors into account when ordering custody. If it is impossible to switch off during the week, parents may need to resign themselves to getting a lower share of parenting time.
Parents can often come to an agreement over parenting time, but courts are still often involved. Parenting time disputes are some of the most contentious issues in custody and divorce cases, and judges often act as referees, helping to resolve disputes. Even if the parents and their attorneys can agree about parenting time, the court may still need to finalize the court order. Talk to a Ventura family law attorney today about how to file for child custody in California and how to get 50/50 custody in your case.
Ventura Child Custody Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you are going through a divorce or a child custody dispute, talk to an attorney about your case. Protecting your parental rights and getting the parenting time you deserve can be one of the hardest parts of any custody case. For a free consultation on your case and to talk with our Ventura child custody lawyers, call The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 585-5056.