Physical and Legal Custody, That's Basically It
This section is about the chapters in the California Family Code (FC) which address child custody laws in California and how the courts in California deal with child custody issues in paternity (uniform parentage), divorce, nullity and separation cases. This section also contains information about the policies behind California court decisions, the different kinds of custody - legal custody and physical custody - and the meaning of joint custody as contrasted to sole custody. I also refer to custody issues arising in move-away cases, and how courts approach custody issues by determining what would be in a child's 'best interests.' Reference is made to mediation and modification of child custody. The term 'custody' means physical and legal custody rights. Physical custody refers to who your child resides with, while legal custody refers to decision-making powers for a child regarding schools, development, medical insurance, finances and other issues. Joint custody means that you and the other parent share legal and physical custody of the child (FC 3002).
Custody Policies in Bear Republic
It is the policy of the court in California to promote frequent and continuous contact with both parents, and absent grounds, this is the custody arrangement that a court will encourage. The general policy of the courts is to promote frequent and continuing contact with both parents. The court will also consider factors such as the health and safety of the child, abuse, the use of controlled substances by the parents, and the nature and extent of contact with both parents. The court will attempt to determine what custody or visitation order would be in the child's best interests (FC 3011; 3040). A child generally needs both parents, and the best arrangement for the child may not be the 'best' in the mind of a parent. The period and frequency of custodial time or visitation can become a major issue when the custodial parent party plans to move from the local area. A court may be requested to hear Requests (called 'RFO's these days) for or against the prospective move-away in an effort to award custody rights in manner promoting the child's best interests. The factors that a court might consider may be numerous, and the basis of the action to some extent, will depend on the 'de facto' custody arrangement.
Changing of Custody Orders
A custody order (not a 'pendente lite' order) may be modified on grounds of a 'substantial change in circumstances.' When modifying an order the court may consider the same factors discussed above.
Guardianship Rights Also Include Custodial Rights But This Takes Place in Probate Court
A non-parent might become the personal guardian of a minor child by bringing a guardianship action in the probate court. The custody factors applicable to a family law action are made applicable to a guardianship of the person action by reference to the Family Code. A court might provide for a guardian in where the situation makes it necessary and expedient.
Adoptions, Just Briefly
An adoption generally involves the termination of parental rights of a biological parent, while the court issues an order of adoption declaring the child the adopted child of the adoptive parent. The new parent stands in the shoes of the former parent - including being responsive for support in the event of a split!