What is the Difference Between Legal & Physical Custody?
In California, the primary concern is how physical and legal custody of the children will be divided between divorcing or separated parents. Legal Custody refers to the right and responsibility of parents to make decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of their children. Physical custody refers to the day-to-day living arrangements of the children, or the period of actual physical care and control of children. Legal and physical custody can be sole or joint. One parent is often designated as the primary custodial parent. The actual custodial designation of legal and physical custody may substantially effect later decisions such as your ability to move out of state with your children.
Do I Have to Attend Mediation?
Yes. Parents are required to attend and participate in mediation before they can obtain a court hearing on custody and visitation. Court-ordered mediation deals only with the issues of custody and visitation. Court appointed mediators can not address support issues or divide marital property. Attorneys do not attend the mediation meeting. In some counties, the mediator prepares a written report containing comments and recommendations for the judicial officer. Many parents find this service very helpful in working out a custody arrangement and a parenting plan. Parents are not legally obligated to agree with the mediator and the mediator has no judicial power. The basic law regarding custody in California requires that it is in the children’s best interests for each child to have frequent and continuing contact with each parent.
What is the “Best Interests” Standard?
The child’s best interests is the basic standard used by the courts to determine contested custody arrangements. However, there are other factors that bear on determining a child’s best interests, including but not limited to, the closeness of the parental relationship, the availability of the parent to the child considering the parent’s employment status and work hours, the willingness of the parties to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and, which parent will provide the best environment to nurture and care for the child. A child’s preference may also be a factor. A child’s attorney (i.e., minor’s counsel) or a custody evaluator may be appointed by the court to investigate your case. Any history of abuse whether it be substance abuse, physical and even emotional abuse, must be considered by the court in determining custody and visitation. In such a case, the abusing parent may only be granted monitored visitation and be subject to ongoing evaluations by the court to determine their fitness to care for the child. Choosing an Irvine child custody attorney to advocate what you consider to be the children’s best interests is one of the most important decisions you will make.
Let Us Help You
The Law Offices of Brett Wishart has represented thousands of clients in child custody and visitation disputes. Our custody lawyers and visitation attorneys help our clients focus on what is best for the child and design a strategy to serve our client’s concerns for the best interests of their children. Our clients appreciate that we have the experience to work through the issues and take their case to trial if necessary. Contact us today to speak with an experienced Irvine child custody attorney.