Child Custody and Visitation
If there are minor children involved during divorce (dissolution of their marriage) or paternity (issues surrounding unmarried adults with children) cases, it is necessary to obtain orders for child custody and visitation.
Child custody and visitation is divided into two areas: Legal Custody and Physical Custody.
Legal custody refers to your rights and responsibilities as a parent and not to the amount of time that the children will be in your physical custody. In a vast majority of cases, both parties are awarded joint legal custody of their minor children.
In the case of joint legal custody, both parents share the right and responsibility to make decisions pertaining to their child’s health, education, and welfare. Some aspects of joint legal custody include:
- The right to your child’s medical and school records
- The right to be informed and participate in your child’s school and extracurricular activities
- The right to be informed prior to the other party attempting to move the residence
of the minor child
Though there are several other aspects of joint legal custody, these are the most recognized.
Physical custody refers to the amount of time that the minor child will be in the physical care of either parent. Typically, if litigation surrounding custody occurs, it is on the issue of physical custody. Under California law, the court must make a physical custody order that is in the “best interest” of the minor children.
At Shawn Dickerson Law, we believe that it is always best for the parties to negotiate their own physical custody arrangements. However, there are a variety of issues that can make this goal unrealistic. In these cases, we can help you take the appropriate steps to prepare all witnesses and gather the necessary evidence to address the issues in the physical custody dispute to obtain an order that is in the best interest of the child(ren).
Following the initial judgment for physical custody, the court retains the jurisdiction to modify the custody order based upon various changes in circumstances, including, but not limited to:
- The age and desires of the child
- Subsequent events that adversely affect the child
- The desire of one party to move a substantial distance from their prior residence
To be sure your rights are being addressed, it is essential to have legal representation that will remain with your case throughout your child’s minor years.