When making child custody decisions, California courts are focused on the best interests of the child. When a child has two loving, capable parents, courts tend to award joint custody so that both parents stay actively involved in the child’s life. The court may choose to award joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both.
Joint legal custody
Parents who share joint legal custody will share the authority to make major decisions for the child. Parents will be required to work together to make decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing.
Joint physical custody
Many parents assume that if they are awarded joint custody of their child, the child will spend exactly 50 percent of their time with each parent. However, this is not always the case. In fact, courts often find that requiring a child to go back and forth between their parents’ homes every other day is harmful to the child’s overall wellbeing. Therefore, when a California court decides on joint custody, it generally means that both parents share custody in a way that works best for the child. Here are some sample joint custody arrangements:
- Alternating weeks: Child spends one week with Parent A, then one week with Parent B.
- 2-2-3: Child spends two days with Parent A, then two days with Parent B, followed by three days with Parent A, and so on and so forth.
- School week/weekends: Child spends Monday through Friday with Parent A during the school year, and spends alternating weekends or school breaks with Parent B.
It can be difficult to come up with a child custody arrangement that serves the best interests of your child. An attorney specializing in these matters can help you stay focused on what matters most and ensure that your child gets the best care possible.