Custody & Visitation

Custody • Visitation • Family Law

Most parents who raise children together have an understanding of the rules regarding children and the household – who picks up the children from school, who prepares the meals, who pays the bills. However, when parents separate or are involved in a dispute, the rules that once worked are no longer applicable, and new rules must be established. Often, parents try to work out any disputes with or without the assistance of counsel. If the parents cannot agree to a new set of rules for the care of children, the court will create a parenting plan in the best interest of the children. Both parents will be bound to follow the new court order.

Child custody refers to types of parenting arrangements, which include:

Physical Custody refers to the amount of time each parent will have with the child(ren). If one parent has primary physical custody, it means that the parent has the child(ren) for a majority of the time. The other parents has visitations with the child(ren).

Visitation is the time one parent has to be with the child(ren) in a parenting arrangement where the other parent has primary physical custody.

Legal Custody has nothing to do with the amount of time the child spends with either parent. Rather, it pertains to the parent’s ability to make decisions regarding education, religious upbringing, healthcare, discipline, social activities and other child rearing responsibilities. If you give up legal custody, you will no longer be able to make decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of your child(ren).

Joint or Shared Custody refers to the parenting arrangement where the parents share legal and/or physical custody of the child(ren).

Sole Physical Custody is a parenting arrangement in which the child(ren) lives with one parent only.

Sole Legal Custody is the parenting arrangement where one parent has the right to make decisions regarding the health, welfare and education of the child(ren) without consulting the other parent.

Unless there has been ongoing child abuse, domestic violence or other criminality, California courts generally consider joint custody to be in the best interest of the child. If parents are willing to cooperate and live within a reasonable distance of one another, the court will arrange for both parents to share equally in the care and upbringing of children.

At the Law Offices of James T. Raetz, we embrace a collaborative law approach to custody. We encourage parents to find mutual ground to arrive at a workable parenting plan, always weighing the best interests of the child.