As a California parent who needs to figure out child custody issues, you will need to understand the options available to you and your child’s other parent. Depending on your situation, you might be seeking custody or you might be seeking visitation. Both, however, are focused on the best interests of the child.
The best interests of the child
In determining custody and visitation, courts look towards the best interests of the child. Some of the factors they consider include:
- The child’s age and their needs
- The bond between each parent and the child
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- The ability of each parent to take care of the child and their needs
- The home environment of each parent’s household
Legal and physical custody
There are two types of custody that must be decided when it comes to children. The first is legal custody, which refers to a parent’s decision-making power over the important details of a child’s life, such as education, health and religion. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where the child will spend their time. These two types of custody are settled separately and can be sole, where one parent has the primary custody, or joint, where both parents share the responsibility.
Visitation rights for the non-custodial parent
In most cases, courts feel that it is in the best interests of the child to continue their bond with both parents, so when a parent is awarded sole custody, the other parent is generally awarded visitation with the child. Visitation can be unsupervised, supervised or even virtual if the parent and child live too far away from each other for in-person visitation.
Finding the right balance for you, your child and the other parent is important when deciding on custody and visitation. The goal, of course, is to continue to provide the child with a supportive, loving environment.