Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, and Board of Legal Specialization

Provided they are safe and cared for appropriately, children have the right to enjoy time with both of their parents. When two parents are either divorced or are not together, they may agree to share time with their child equally. However, when parents are unable to agree on a specific parenting schedule, they may have to seek the court’s assistance to determine custody.

There are different types of custody arrangements in California, and a court must consider several factors when determining which situation would work in the best interests of the child. If you face a dispute over parenting time, a Ventura County child custody lawyer could explain what factors a judge may look at in your case and advocate for a resolution that protects your parental rights. Additionally, our family attorneys could do their best to support you through this challenging time.

Types of Custody Arrangements

The state’s public policy ensures that children have frequent contact with both parents after they have divorced or ended their relationship. However, if a parent abandons a child, is unable to care for them, or refuses to take responsibility for their child, a court may award sole custody to the other parent. Because each case comes with unique circumstances, one custody arrangement may be completely different from another. As such, a judge may award two distinct types of custody to each parent.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is where a child resides on a day-to-day basis. If a child’s parents decide not to live together, one parent may have primary physical custody, or the parents could share in this arrangement. Shared physical custody does not necessarily mean that a child spends precisely one-half of their time with each parent, but that the child may live with either party at any given time.

Legal Custody

Divorcing or separating couples have two different options for their child’s legal custody. Under a joint legal custody arrangement, both parents can make significant decisions about their child’s health, education, and welfare. Some of these decisions include:

  • Schooling
  • Daycare
  • Healthcare, including mental and physical needs
  • Religious affiliations and activities
  • Travel
  • Extracurricular activities

If one parent assumes the role of sole legal custodian, they have the right to make the final decisions for their child, even over the other parent’s objection. A lawyer in Ventura County understands the critical differences between sole and joint legal custody and could help a parent determine which arrangement meets their child’s needs.

Factors that May Determine Custody in Ventura County

The standard a court must apply in child custody cases is the ‘best interest of the child.’ This means that any decision a court makes must be in the child’s best interests first. In making these determinations, California Code, Family Code §3011 mandates that the court consider the following factors:

  • The child’s health, safety, and welfare
  • Any history of abuse by a parent or anyone seeking custody
  • The nature and amount of the child’s contact with each parent
  • Either parent’s use of alcohol or controlled substances, whether illegal or prescribed
  • The child’s wishes if the child is mature enough to state a preference

A court cannot consider a parent’s gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation when deciding custody. A Ventura County attorney could ensure that all relevant evidence relating to these factors is presented to the judge hearing the child custody case.

Domestic Violence and Custody

If domestic violence, child abuse, or a threat to a child’s health and safety is alleged in a case, a court could deny a parent custody or visitation. The parent raising the concerns must provide specific evidence of the abuse or threats to a court. A Ventura County attorney could assess the impact of any domestic abuse allegations on a court’s determination of child custody.

An Experienced Ventura County Child Custody Attorney Could Help

The prospect of losing the day to day contact with your child due to a divorce or separation can be extremely stressful. You may have questions about how a court determines your child’s custody if you and the other parent cannot agree.

If you are facing a custody battle, one of the most important steps you can take is to contact a knowledgeable lawyer. Our firm’s attorneys understand how state law is applied in these cases and what evidence a judge needs to make the best decision for your child. Contact a Ventura County child custody lawyer to discuss your case.

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