Child Custody & Visitation Generally
In general, questions concerning child custody are determined according to the child’s best interests. In California, courts are required to consider certain factors when assessing the best interests of a child for purposes of making custody orders.
California Family Code § 3011 lists the following factors for courts to consider when evaluating child custody arrangements:
- The child’s health, safety, and welfare
- History of abuse from a parent
- The nature or extent of the child’s contact with both parents
- Issues of substance abuse
The details of a custody arrangement vary from case to case. However, custody orders are organized into the following categories:
- Joint physical custody: Where the parents share roughly the same amount of time being physically present with the child. Typically, the child alternates living with a parent on certain days or weeks.
- Joint legal custody: Where both parents make certain legal decisions on the child’s behalf, such as matters concerning education, property rights, and medical care.
- Sole physical custody: Where one parent primarily lives with the child. The other parent may or may not visitation rights.
- Sole legal custody: Where only one parent has the exclusive right to make legal decisions on the child’s behalf.
In cases where one parent receives sole physical custody of a child, the court can generally grant the other parent “reasonable visitation” rights in situations where the parties have demonstrated an ability to cooperate and agree on the details of a visitation schedule. In other cases, visitation orders must specify the details such as the schedule for picking up and dropping off the children, as well as distributing spending time with them on holidays.
Determining who has the right to spend time with a child on holidays and birthdays is an important consideration in custody proceedings. Parents who share custody of the child on an alternating living schedule might alternate spending holidays and birthdays each year. For example, one parent might spend all holidays with the child on odd-numbered years while the other parent spends all holidays with them on even-numbered years.
Important considerations divorced parents can consider when organizing holiday schedules include:
- Details regarding remote contact with the child, such as by telephone, email, video chat, etc.
- Specific limitations on interstate or international travel
- Details about sharing financial responsibility for holiday expenses, such as gifts, travel costs, and special insurance needs
- Keeping a journal for the purpose of keeping the other parent informed about important issues that arise
- Prohibitions on a parent’s consumption of alcohol, tobacco, or other substances before and while spending time with the child
- Need Quality Legal Counsel? Call Moshtael Family Law
Child custody and visitation issues during the divorce process can be challenging to resolve, such as determining your rights and responsibilities on holidays. If you have questions or concerns about your rights as a parent regarding the custody and care of your children upon divorce, you can count on Moshtael Family Law for legal advice.
Call our office at (714) 909-2561 or contact us online to arrange an initial case evaluation today.