Legal custody, as in all family law cases, can be a confusing and tricky subject. Without a trusted attorney who practices family law, parents can find themselves navigating difficult waters. Here are some tips that can help if you find yourself in a custody case.

How Does the Law Define ‘Custody’?

First, what IS child custody? There are really 4 types of custody:

  • Physical custody
  • Legal custody
  • Sole custody
  • Joint custody

Physical vs. Legal:

When the average person thinks ‘custody,’ they are most likely considering physical custody. Physical custody regards whom the child spends the most in the direct care of, as well as who the child lives with.

Legal custody is in regards to which person makes important legal decisions for the child, including decisions concerning medical care, schooling, or other matters.

Sole vs. Joint custody:

Joint custody is when two parties share custody of the child, whether physical, legal, or both. While it is rarely an exact 50/50 split, both parents are meant to receive the same amount of time with the child and have equal input on their well-being and major decisions in their lives. Joint custody is meant to be the default in the state of California.

Sole custody is when a child resides mostly, or always, with one parent or guardian, or when only one parent is given the right to make decisions for the child.

How Do I Demonstrate That I Am a Parent Who Deserves Custody?

Every custody case is unique and can differ greatly from one to the next. There are no hard-and-fast rules as to the ‘right’ things to do to demonstrate you are fit for custody. However, the following are tips that can help to improve the way you are viewed in terms of possible custody:

  • Be involved with your child’s happiness, well-being, and education.
  • Show a positive attitude toward ideas such as co-parenting, rather than undermining or insulting the other parent.
  • Foster a good relationship between yourself and your child—the court will take into account which parent the child is more emotionally invested in.
  • Have a plan to continue your child’s education at their current school, as well as foster their current relationships.
  • If a child has siblings, California courts recognize that it is usually within the child’s best interests to remain close to them—make an effort to foster those relationships.
  • Find a qualified attorney—an experienced third party with a background in family law is a good ally to have on your side.

What Factors Can Affect My Custody Rights?

Each parent/guardian-child relationship must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Courts will likely consider the following;

  • Time spent with the child
  • General relationship with the child/how the child feels about parent/guardian
  • Home environment
  • Where the child attends school/has a life established
  • Depending on age, the child’s own wishes
  • Parental work/life balance
  • Substance/alcohol abuse history
  • Domestic violence charges or accusations
  • Refusal to comply with proceedings

What Steps Can I Take to Make Sure I Get Custody if I Live in Orange County?

If you are currently or are likely to become engaged in a battle of custody, reach out to a local family law attorney. Ours are waiting to hear from you at (714) 919-1855