Child Custody in California: How Custody and Visitation Work
Whether you’re going through a divorce or ending the relationship with the father or mother of your child, you probably have questions about your rights to child custody and visitation, also known as time-sharing in California.
You need a knowledgeable child custody lawyer to help you make decisions that are best for your children, minimizing interruptions in their lives while safeguarding your bond with them.
Serving clients throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, the Law Offices of David M. Lederman can advise and represent you in the following areas:
- Making your case for primary or joint custody of your children a priority
- Develop time-sharing plans that provide guidance and flexibility
- Help with paternity issues as it relates to child visitation rights
- Help navigate child custody disputes that cross state and international borders, including Hague Convention cases
After a paternity issue is taken care of, there’s still a possibility we’ll have to help clients enforce court orders. In other cases, a former client may come back for help with a modification to relocate for work.
Determining What’s Best for Your Children
Sharing children with an ex is never an easy situation. The most important thing you can do when discussing child custody is to ensure your children are the primary focus and that their needs will be met (if a court is required to decide, he or she will make decisions on his or her perspective as to what that “best interest is.”)
Letting go of the negative things that led to the divorce will help you both make sure you’re doing what’s best for the kids. Although it’s not easy forgiving actions from the past, for the best interest of your children, it would be wise to learn how to focus on the dynamic you and your ex-partner have now compared to when you were married.
Making a Child Custody and Visitation Schedule
Determining what schedule your children will follow is sometimes one of the most difficult decisions you and your ex will make. Your child’s daily routine and activities are factors you’ll have to consider when creating a schedule that works for both you and your ex-partner.
Your child’s school schedule and extracurricular activities are important factors you’ll need to consider. Also, think about the distance you and your ex live from each other in relation to the places your children may need to go for extra-curricular or other activities.
Everyone is different and there are a few common joint custody schedules that people use, but these might only be a starting point for your schedule. Remaining flexible and willing to change things to adhere to your child or children’s needs is beneficial for everyone involved.
There are some parents, for example, who use a schedule where their child spends a full week with each parent. This allows the child time to adjust to the new home or living environment. However, some mental health practitioners note that more frequent moves from one parent to the other are beneficial for younger children.
Some parents use a 2-2-3 or a 2-2-5 schedule. With this schedule, the child spends two days with parent A, then two days with parent B, then three or five days with parent A before starting the cycle over. This time, parent B starts the cycle with two days, then parent A has two days, then parent B has three or five.
Adjusting the Schedule
If things work out, you may be able to use the same schedule the whole year, but sometimes parents find that adjustments need to be made depending on the time of year.
Adjustments can include incorporating holidays and summer vacation into the schedule, or even creating a whole new plan when school starts.
These are all things to consider, but most importantly, remember to set a schedule that works for the children now. You can use a modification later if changes need to be made due to the factors listed above.
Agreeing on Your Children’s Medical Needs After a Divorce
When parents go through a divorce or separation, their marital relationship finishes, however, they are still co-parents. Despite what exes may feel about each other, they still need to continue raising their children in a healthy way either in separate households or not, depending on their housing circumstances.
This means ensuring their children get the proper medical care they need. The problem that arises when dealing with the healthcare of children is that some parents may go about their child’s healthcare needs differently. Usually, issues arise over whether parents should vaccinate their children against different diseases or not.
There’s a minority of Californian parents that are against vaccinating their kids against diseases like measles or chickenpox. The COVID vaccine makes this topic all the more controversial.
There have been cases where divorced parents in California have gone to family court because one parent was for vaccinating their child and the other parent was not.
Who Has the Right to Make Medical Decisions?
Aside from the obvious – physical child custody determining a kids’ living arrangement – California law supports legal custody.
In most cases, divorced parents share legal child custody, which gives them the right to make important decisions about their children’s upbringing.
Healthcare is a major part of this issue. It is crucial for parents to work together to pick their children’s pediatrician and collaborate on treatment options when one of their kids gets sick.
Vaccinations are another issue that divorced parents must work out. If they cannot come to an agreement, a judge may have to decide on their behalf. A few family court judges in California and elsewhere in the U.S. have ordered unvaccinated parents to get one of the COVID vaccines or risk their child custody or visitation rights.
If you and your ex can’t agree on vaccinating your kids, it might be wise to consult a divorce attorney.
Maintaining Healthy Physical Custody of the Children
With regards to physical custody of your children, your parenting plan should contain information about where the children should be on a day-to-day basis, and where they should be during holidays and vacations.
Outline which parent will fill some domestic duties like taking the children to their after-school activities or medical or dental appointments.
Also, provide a detailed reason concerning your plans for transferring the children from one home to the other.
In terms of legal custody, outline how you and your ex will handle making major decisions concerning the children and their needs.
The Parenting Plan: A Written Agreement Detailing Co-Parenting Responsibilities
After a divorce, a huge concern is about the welfare of the upbringing of the children.
Creating an effective parenting plan can help streamline any responsibilities that come with child custody and visitation, ultimately making the impact of the divorce easier for the children.
Parenting Plan Guidelines
In California, a parenting plan is known as a “custody and visitation agreement,” by the courts. It’s a well-written guide to help both parties navigate handling the children and building a new family structure after the divorce. The plan gives parents a schedule for time-sharing with their children and also outlines how to go about making major decisions regarding welfare, education, and health.
Approving the Parenting Plan/Custody and Visitation Agreement
After you both agree and sign the custody and visitation agreement, it will be filed with the court after a judge approves and signs it. Parenting plans should contain a large number of details, but also be flexible to accommodate other changes that may occur in your child’s life.
Divorce is difficult for the children involved. An effective parenting schedule will ensure they know what to expect out of this big change in their life, and also help them adjust to a new routine.
Contact an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer at the Law Offices of David M. Lederman Today
If you and your ex-spouse do not agree on child custody, the Law Offices of David M. Lederman are here to help. We understand how important your children are to you, and we will protect your parental bond with them both during and after the divorce.
Our seasoned child custody attorneys are often able to limit the disruption to your children’s lives by reaching a settlement through negotiation or mediation. If necessary, we will litigate to protect your children’s best interests and your parent-child relationship.
Since 1997, the Law Offices of David M. Lederman has worked with families in the greater San Francisco Bay Area to solve a broad array of family law problems affecting children.
If you have questions about child custody or child support in Antioch, Moraga, and across Contra Costa, Alameda, and Solano Counties, please call our offices at 925-522-8889 or send us an email to schedule a consultation to discuss child custody or other divorce-related issues in California.