Parents who are seeking a divorce in San Diego or North County might not understand the difference between parenting time physical custody and legal custody of a child. What are the legal forms of parenting time and child custody and how are those different than common terms such as “shared parenting” or “joint custody.” What do you need to know about children in divorce from the outset?
The first and most important concept involving children and divorce is the foundational legal principal of “the best interests of the child.” San Diego family courts are interested in what is in the best interest of the child in matters of child custody and parenting time.
Let’s begin with the concepts of parenting time physical custody and legal custody. Parenting time is a component of “physical custody.” Physical custody is associated with the right to have a child live within your household. In essence, “where will the child live during and after the divorce?” Parenting time refers to the time each child will spend with each parent. California law does not presently presume an automatic equal distribution of time between each parent. However, California family law does recognize it is in the best interests of the child to spend equal quality time with each parent.
The parenting time schedule or parenting plan may be as creative as needed in order to reflect the rhythms of the child’s life and the preservation of some form of “normality” whenever possible.
Therefore, if you wish to seek parenting time you should give serious consideration and attention to your own participation in the life of each child. This includes getting them to and from school (or homeschooling in the present pandemic), extra-curricular activities, religious practices and attending important events such as parent-teacher conferences. Generally speaking, the more active you are in each aspect of your child’s life the stronger your case to continue these activities as a co-parent.
Legal custody is the power and authority to make important legal decisions for the child including but not limited to education, health care and religious practice.
“Shared parenting” usually simply refers to sharing parenting time between the two parents. “Joint custody” usually refers to both parties sharing physical and legal custody of each child.
Parenting time physical custody and legal custody must be addressed as part of the divorce process. Each parent in a divorce has an idea of how they would like the process to work out. In some cases the parties are in substantially complete agreement in general, but need to work through some of the specifics. In other cases, there may be significant disagreement regarding parenting time physical custody and legal custody issues.
Mediation is a private, confidential and often collaborative environment where areas of principled disagreement may be resolved.
Issues surrounding your children are often one of the highest priorities (if not the highest) for parents who are seeking a divorce in San Diego or North County. This is why it is important to work with our Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq. Share your goals and concerns and learn about the intricacies of parenting time physical custody and legal custody in divorce. We help our clients to develop a sound understanding of the process and effective strategies to accomplish their goals.