Deciding what happens with the children is often the most painful and contentious part of a divorce or paternity case. Both parents want quality time with the children and the presumption in California is that both parents are entitled to equal time with the children. Nevertheless, that rarely happens.
Terminology is important here and terms are often confused. The first term to know is “custody.” The second term to know is “time share.” They are related but not the same.
Custody refers to the legal right to make major decisions about the children as well as who makes the major day to day decisions about the children. It gets more confusing because The Family Code uses the terms “legal custody” and “physical custody” to describe custody.
Legal custody is about major decisions about the children, like whether they can travel out of the state or get a driver’s license. Courts typically award either joint or sole legal custody to the parents, although mediators in Los Angeles and Ventura counties confuse the terms in their reports.
Physical custody is the most important custody to have. The parent with physical custody is typically the parent who has the most time with the children. Parents with physical custody usually decide where the children go to school, where they live and sometimes if the child can move out of state without the other parent’s permission. Courts typically award either joint or sole physical custody, although some courts use other terms
Thousand Oaks Office
Certified Family Law Specialist*
(*State Bar of California),
Also Licensed in Texas.
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