Divorce is the most traumatic event in the lives of many people, whether you live in Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills, Studio City or anywhere in Los Angeles County or California. If you are considering divorce and have children, no doubt your first concern is to work out harmonious child custody and visitation arrangements that will shield them from the upheaval that comes with divorce.
Set the Stage for the Rest of Your Child’s Childhood
Protecting your children during and after a divorce takes both planning and restraint. From the time you start considering divorce, you should be thinking about child custody and child visitation arrangements that will make the divorce as amicable as possible and will be best for your children. If you have children, you and your ex-spouse will be bound together for a long time. With the help of your Sherman Oaks family law lawyer, this is also the time to set the foundation for continuing relations with your ex-spouse that enable your children to feel loved, stable and secure as they grow up.
Arrive at a Mutually Agreeable Custody and Visitation Plan
The main thing to remember is that it is far better for everyone, but especially for your children, if you can come to a mutual agreement with your spouse about custody and visitation. As long as your plan is reasonable, the California family court judge is likely to approve it. If you cannot agree, then the judge will make a plan for you, one that possibly nobody will like and like. However, the judge will normally not rule about custody and visitation matters until you have met with a Family Court Services mediator to try to work out a custody and visitation plan.
Following are some basics you should understand about child custody and visitation Your Sherman Oaks child custody attorney can explain in more detail.
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Legal Custody v. Physical Custody in California
When talking about custody, it’s important to keep apples separate from oranges. There are two basic kinds of child custody:
- Legal Custody: Legal custody gives authority to make important decisions for and about your children such as where they will go to school and what medical treatments they will receive. Often parents have joint legal custody, meaning they share this responsibility and authority, but it is possible for only one parent to have legal custody.
- Physical Custody: Physical custody determines where the child lives.
- Joint custody: Physical custody may be granted jointly to both parents, meaning the child will split their time and residence between the two parents. The split need not be exactly the same amount of time, which is virtually impossible.
- Sole custody: Physical custody may be granted to just one parent. If this is the case, usually the other parent has scheduled visitation privileges unless granting visitation would be against the best interests of the child. It is not uncommon for parents to have joint legal custody but for one of the parents to have sole physical custody with visitation rights granted to the other parent. Sole custody is sometimes known as primary custody.
Child Visitation in California
If one parent is granted sole custody where the child lives with them most of the time, the other will normally be granted visitation, but the types of visitation vary according to the best interests of the child, the parents’ circumstances and other factors. Possibilities include
- Scheduled Visitation: Scheduled visitation is where there is a structured schedule with dates and times indicating when the child will be with each parent. Holidays, birthdays, weekends, summer vacations and school nights are planned in detail. The upside is that it’s already been decided, so discussions and conflicts about where the child will spend a particular day or time period are minimized.
- Reasonable Visitation: Reasonable visitation is much less structured than scheduled visitation. It leaves it up to the parents to work out when the child will be with each of them. Obviously, this will only work if ex-spouses get along well and can easily cooperate. But conflicts may arise when one parent is expecting Junior to stay with them over the holidays, but the other parent wants to take Junior on a ski vacation.
- Supervised visitation: Supervised visitation is not the norm, but the judge may order it if it is in the best interests of the child. In this case, the parent may only visit the child in a controlled space with a neutral third-party present. Some of the reasons for supervised visitation include protecting the child from possible violence or abduction or reintroducing the child to a parent they have not seen in a long time.
In rare cases, a judge may order that a parent may not visit with the child at all. This is only done if the judge believes visitation could cause physical or emotional harm to the child.
Call Us for Your Free Consultation to Discuss Your Child Custody and Visitation Rights
Of course, we have barely brushed the surface of California child custody issues here. For example, grandparents may also be concerned with getting visitations privileges or even custody of the child in some instances. We encourage you to call us here at Ghazi Law Group at (818) 839-6644 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to discuss all the aspects of divorce including child custody and child visitation. If you are looking for a lawyer who serves people from Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills, Studio City and other areas of Los Angeles County, call us for your initial free consultation and put your mind at ease.