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What Do I Need to Know about Child Custody in a San Diego Divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2022 | Child Custody and Visitation

You may be searching about what you need to know about child custody in a San Diego divorce.  The first and most important principle to keep in mind as you approach these questions is the guiding principle of child custody and parenting time in California: the best interests of the child.  It is important to keep this thought as you work through every aspect of child custody.

There are four concepts you need to know about child custody in a San Diego divorce.  Legal Custody is the authority to make important decisions regarding the life of a child.  This includes, but is not limited to, decisions regarding healthcare, education and religious practices.  Legal custody is often shared between co-parents.  When this is the case each parent has an equal right to make decisions.  This can require a spirit of cooperation combined with a genuine focus on what is best for the child in the specific circumstances at hand.  When there is contention between the parties the Judge in your case may award legal custody to only one of the parents at the time of the divorce.

Another important thing you need to know about child custody in a San Diego divorce is the concept of Physical Custody.  Physical Custody is the right to have the child live under a parent’s roof and often extends to the right to pick up a child from school or daycare.  While our Courts presume it is in the best interest of a child to spend equal quality time with each parent this doesn’t mean the conversation starts from a position of a 50/50 time share with each child.  Parenting time is a component of physical custody.  Many parenting time agreements do effectively split time with each child equally between the child’s parents.  The Court will be very interested in not only the existing rhythms in the child’s life (where they go to school, the proximity of important family and friend support as well as religious practices and participation in extracurricular activities) but in the active participation of each parent in every aspect of a child’s life before, during and after the divorce.  You do not have to have legal custody to be awarded or share physical custody.

Joint Custody orders are highly desired and are possible when each spouse is able to focus on the best interests of each child and to work collaboratively with the other parent.  This is basically an equal sharing of physical and legal custody.  In these cases the parents work out a “Parenting Plan” which the Court must review and ultimately approve.

Sole Custody is a little less common these days, and is often the result of prospective challenges such as domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, parental alienation and other behaviors by one of the parent which are not in the best interests of a child.  A parent with Sole Custody has all of the legal authority to make important decisions regarding the child’s life and to have full-time physical custody of the child.  In these cases the Court usually still wishes to ensure the child is able to visit with the other parent.  This may include orders for “supervised visitation” and other instructions required to protect the safety and well being of the child.

These are some of the important concepts you need to know about child custody in a San Diego divorce.  Each case is unique and most parents are deeply concerned about protecting their rights as a parent and time with their children.  This is why it is important to review the strong recommendations of former clients and the legal industry, protect your own interests and contact us or call 760-389-3927 to schedule an appointment for a remote or socially distanced consultation with one of our experienced Certified Family Law Specialists.