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In California, the children of those getting a divorce should continue to have frequent and continuing contact with both of their parents. This means that, unless you have some proof that shows that your children will be hurt visiting their other parent, the court will assume that it will be in the best interest of your child to have an equal amount of time spent with both of their parents.

The best child custody schedules are typically the ones decided on together by the parents – these are also the most flexible schedules. In Beverly Hills, as in many other court systems, if both parents can’t come up with a visitation schedule they can both agree upon, the court will decide on a schedule for both of them. This typically leads to a situation where at least one parent will be unhappy with the outcome.

When it comes time to set up a visitation schedule, keep in mind that whatever will work best for your family is likely to be agreeable to the court. It could even be a more confusing schedule – like having the child live with their mom every day except Tuesdays and Thursdays every second week of the month – and the court will sign off on it as long as it works out for both parties.

A few of the common ways of splitting up visitation time is alternating the weeks each parent has the children or having the kids go to the opposite parent’s house every other weekend. Anything goes as long as it is made in the best interests of your children – the reality is that the interests of your children are the most important issue in this case, not how it will impact the parents. Many judges will argue that the point of Family Law courthouses is to ensure that children are going to be safe and cared for.

If you are in a situation where it could be harmful to leave your kids with your ex, there are several other options to adjusting the visitation schedule so contact is completely cut out. Whether you only do this for a short period of time or you do this as long as the visitation schedule is in place, you can have an established visitation structure that includes another adult you trust to be there at all times during the visits. These visits can be as long or as short as you both agree upon – or what the judge decides to set in place instead if you can’t both agree on a schedule.

It’s common for children to express their preference in visitation schedules and custody. Some just want to have a say in how often they get to see the parent that doesn’t have main custody over them. Sometimes children want to live full-time with one parent instead of the other. It is perfectly acceptable for them to express their opinion on these matters as it involves a large portion of their lives. However, we recommend that you don’t discuss these issues with your children or ask them for their opinion first. In court, this can be seen as psychologically harming your child as it is forcing them to choose between both of their parents.

However, after a certain age, your child will state their opinion whether you ask for it or not. In California, the law says that when a child turns 14 years old, their preference in regards to custodial and visitation times will be considered by the court. This means that the judge has to take their preference into account; it doesn’t mean that they will inevitably get to choose who they live with. You still shouldn’t necessarily be the one to bring up these conversations, but you should do your best to work with the other parent and be aware of what your child may want. It is very important to do what is best for your family in these situations.

In the case of a divorce, the court is typically only worried about the child’s health and well-being being maintained. Courts tend to do their best to establish and foster the bonds between the child and both parents as children tend to do better when having a close relationship with both parents.

Types of Custody

Whether the parents are aware of it or not, when they are talking about custody, they are refereeing to both physical and legal custody.

As you might be able to tell by the name of each, legal custody has more to do with the rights of the parents to make decisions regarding the child while physical custody is about where a child will be living.

We’ll discuss both of these briefly so you get a better idea as to what is included in both types of custody so you can make better decisions.

Legal Custody

As mentioned briefly, legal custody is about the parents’ rights to make decisions about their child. This can include decisions on their health, education, and welfare. Both parents can have joint of sole legal custody over the child. Sole legal custody is very rare to have, however. You would need to show that there would be a major detriment in the child’s life if both parents shared the decision-making process or provide proof that the other parent is incarcerated.

For example, if one parent wants to change the school the child goes to, both parents must agree on the decision if they have joint legal custody over the child. However, if only one parent has legal custody over the child, they can choose the school freely. This freedom to make what decisions and assist the child as they wish applies to many different things, including the child’s religion and signing them up to get their driver’s license. But if there is shared joint legal custody over the child, both parents must still make the decisions together.

As an additional note, parents can have joint legal custody but a parent could still have only around 20% of the visitation time. While it is rare to do so, there are some cases where both parents can have joint physical custody of their child but only one parent gets sole legal custody of the child. This is becoming more common for judges to rule on, however, because there has been an increasing trend where parents are unable to come to an agreement on any important issues about the children. The court could also give a parent sole legal custody over a specific issue rather than all issues.

Physical Custody

Legal custody has to do with the rights of the parent and their role in making decisions while physical custody is about where the children will live and with whom. It is important for you to know that the distribution of visitation times is what really determines whether one parent has sole custody or if there is joint custody. This distinction is important even if it is written into the judgement that who have joint physical custody, for example. One parent having sole physical custody means the other simply has visitation.

In this case, having sole physical custody means that the parent with a physical timeshare lower than 28% total custodial time has visitation. If one parent has sole physical custody, they have a right to move away from the other parent, sometimes moving very far away from them. If there is 28% or more, it is considered joint physical custody.

Another important factor to note is that the court will only be interested in the actual timeshare both parents are actually acting upon. If one parent only sees the children one weekend in a month and every holiday, this will be less than 28% of the custodial time and the other parent with sole physical custody – as it is now considered by law – have a presumed right to move away with the children, amongst other things. Even if your court orders say that both parents have joint legal and physical custody support, it will still be taken as one parent having visitation while the other has sole physical custody.

Questions? Call Majd Law Firm

If you are thinking about getting a divorce and you have children, contact Majd Law Firm today for a free consultation. We can help you develop a visitation plan, answer questions, and offer some advice as to what may be the best option for you in this situation. This can be difficult to work through on your own, especially as the physical custody rights rely upon what is truly acted upon. So, call us today for assistance with your case.

Farbod Majd Esq.
Divorce Attorney w/ offices in Beverly Hills/Los Angeles
Services in English, Turkish, and Farsi/Persian (Iranian/American Lawyer)

8383 Wilshire Blvd Suite 646, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

310.956.4600 | Fax: 310.878.8989 | [email protected]