The following chart highlights the basics of California child custody laws. Visitation (also called “time-share”) is the plan for how the parents will share time with the children. If you’d like legal assistance, you can meet with an experienced child custody attorney in California. But it seems like for every story of marital bliss, there’s a tale of marital woe. Finally, if your child is living with your ex most of the time, you will generally still have visitation rights in California. Courts cannot deny your right to custody or visitation just because you were never married to the other parent, or because you or the other parent has a physical disability or a different lifestyle, religious belief, or sexual orientation. California child custody laws are designed to provide both parents with frequent and regular contact with their children when it is in the children's best interest. Usually, the judge will approve a new custody and visitation order that both parents agree to. Sometimes, if giving custody to either parent would harm the children, courts give custody to someone other than the parents because it is in the best interest of the children. Physical custody, which means who your children live with. Parents may have to pay for an evaluation. Keep in mind that a child support order is separate from child custody and visitation, so you cannot refuse to let the other parent see the children just because he or she is not making the child support payments that the court ordered. And you cannot refuse to pay child support just because the other parent is not letting you see your children. Please try again. Internet Explorer 11 is no longer supported. Copyright © 2020, Thomson Reuters. Talk with a lawyer to understand how the law affects you and your rights. Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized? The first and most important is your child’s best interests. The emotional ties between the parents and the child. California child custody procedure centers mostly around creating a parenting plan. California child custody laws comply with the Act, while also allowing grandparent visitation rights and joint custody. Joint, which means that the children live with both parents. The judge makes the final decision about custody and visitation but usually will approve the arrangement (the parenting plan) that both parents agree on. After that, your child’s age, health, emotional ties, and ties to school and community are considered, as well as any history of family abuse or neglect. When 1 parent has the children more than half of the time, then that parent is sometimes called the “primary custodial parent.”. You might find that speaking with an attorney about your case could be helpful. Family law matters generally fall under state jurisdiction, including custody. The child’s ties to school, home, and his or her community. To get an overview of the child custody and visitation process, read the Child Custody Information Sheet (Form FL-314-INFO). Click for help finding a lawyer. And which laws could apply to your child custody case? But child support and custody are related because the amount of time each parent spends with the children will affect the amount of child support. This is a brief summary of child custody laws in California. Both parents will most likely have to meet with a mediator to talk about why the court order needs to be changed. The judge also may appoint lawyers for children in custody cases. That parent will probably have to complete certain forms to ask for a court hearing and prove to the judge that there is a significant change in circumstances (for example, the children would be harmed unless the order is changed) or other good reason to change the order. So what happens if yours isn’t one of the happy endings? California child custody laws comply with the Act, while also allowing grandparent visitation rights and joint custody. The Golden State is a great place to fall in love. If so, you can file a Request for Order to modify a previous custody order. Stay up-to-date with how the law affects your life, Name In some cases, the judge may appoint a child custody evaluator to do a custody evaluation and recommend a parenting plan. The email address cannot be subscribed. Generally, the judge will then decide your custody and visitation schedule. Joint physical custody does not mean that the children must spend exactly half the time with each parent. Under California child custody laws, fathers and mothers are considered equally eligible for custody or visitation. A parent can also ask for an evaluation, but the request may not be granted. Each state has its own child custody laws. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select, Please enter a legal issue and/or a location. California Court Services Status Due to COVID-19, Emergency Court Actions and COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Custody and Parenting Time (Visitation) Orders, Special Education Rights for Children and Families, more information on supervised visitation, writing up a custody and visitation agreement or parenting plan, Legal custody, which means who makes important decisions for your children (like health care, education, and welfare), and. The parent who does not have physical custody usually has visitation with the children. After a judge makes a custody or visitation order, 1 or both parents may want to change the order. Microsoft Edge. We recommend using Learn more about FindLaw’s newsletters, including our terms of use and privacy policy. Learn more about mediation of custody cases. Joint, where both parents share the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children. If you still cannot agree, you and the other parent will meet with the judge. If the parents cannot agree, the judge will make a decision at a court hearing. But to avoid having problems and ending up back in court, both parents should communicate with each other and cooperate in making decisions together. To decide what is best for a child, the court will consider: Courts do not automatically give custody to the mother or the father, no matter what the age or sex of your children. Temporary absence or relocation of a parent from the family residence. Are you a legal professional? Each state has its own child custody laws. If the parents cannot agree on a change, 1 parent can ask the court for a change. Sole, where only 1 parent has the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children. The judge will also decide who will pay for the children’s lawyer’s fees. The ability of the parents to care for the child, Any history of family violence or substance abuse, and. This means that both parents share the responsibility for making important decisions in the children’s lives, but the children live with 1 parent most of the time. | Last updated June 20, 2016. Determining Child Custody in California Children are affected in endless ways during their parents’ divorce. Search, Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This includes child custody, meaning the parents’ rights or obligations to make decisions about a child’s upbringing. Sometimes, a judge gives parents joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody. Generally, California courts favor custody and visitation arrangements that allow both parents to be involved in the child’s life. Google Chrome, There are several child custody factors in California to which courts will courts look when deciding on custody cases. Over time, either your child’s needs or your personal circumstances might change. Usually the children spend a little more time with 1 parent than the other because it is too hard to split the time exactly in half. Most U.S. states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (PDF), which fosters legal cooperation with respect to multi-state custody cases. Visit our professional site », Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors Click for more information on guardianship. A California court will grant custody to a third-party—a non-parent—if it decides that the child will be in danger or subject to harm in the care of a parent and that granting custody to a third-party custodian will serve the best interests of the child. A parent who has the children less than half of the time has visitation with the children. Either parent can make a decision alone. Most U.S. states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (PDF), which fosters legal cooperation with respect to multi-state custody cases. Contested custody or visitation cases, where the parents cannot agree, are complicated. 1. Parents who share legal custody both have the right to make decisions about these aspects of their children’s lives, but they do not have to agree on every decision. In California, either parent can have custody of the children, or the parents can share custody. , either parent can ask the court for a change parents may want change... 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