Child custody in California does not automatically stipulate that the children will live with their mother. This is a mistaken notion that may have its root in some antiquated rulings that rested on the outdated belief that children are best of with their mothers. In a world where family responsibilities have shifted, mothers are no longer guaranteed automatic custody of their children. Sadly, many a mother has been unpleasantly surprised by this development. Child custody in California is determined by the court before which the dissolution of marriage action was brought.
As such the determination of child custody in California rests very heavily on the safety and welfare of the children, and to a lesser extent on who has the bigger house, more money, or better job. The court will take into consideration that is living in an adequate home – for example, if one spouse is living in a car or travel trailer, she or he may not be considered to have an adequate home that will support a reasonable home life for the children. In addition to the foregoing, if one party was a known abuser during the time of the family – such as a spousal abuser, a child abuser, or even a drug abuser – he or she will most likely not be awarded child custody in California. For this reason it is not surprising that during a contested divorce action very frequently the accusations of abuse will be brought by both parties, only to be later dismissed when indeed they have been found either untrue or unsubstantiated.
Child custody in California recognizes several arrangements: sole custody, joint custody, or non-parent custody. Sole custody refers to either exclusive custody which puts one parent in charge of the child and all decision making, sole physical custody which orders a child to live with only one parent, but does not permit this parent to make decisions about the child’s welfare unilaterally, and sole legal custody which gives one parent the exclusive right to make all the decisions pertaining to a child’s welfare, but does not give her or him the physical custody as well. Pure joint custody is the state where the child is living at both homes on a fifty-fifty basis. Joint legal custody refers to joint decision making rights when it comes to the welfare of the child, whereas joint physical custody pertains to the dividing up of the child’s time, although not necessarily on a fifty-fifty basis. As you can see, if you are embarking on a divorce action, it is imperative that you will get some professional child custody advice so as not to loose that which is most near and dear to your heart!