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When parents decide to get a divorce in California, one of the most significant issues to negotiate is child custody. Custody is determined by a number of different factors, with the court presuming that both parents have an equal right to custody and determining issues through the lens of what is in the best interests of the child. At Kearney Baker in Pasadena, our team of highly qualified legal professionals deeply understand California child custody law, and they are here to zealously advocate for your interests in a child custody case. To learn more, call or contact our office today. 

Physical and Legal Custody

The term child custody refers to both the physical and legal custody of a child. Physical custody refers to where the child physically resides and how much time is spent with each parent. Legal custody refers to the ability of a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including choices about their schooling, religion, medical care, dental needs, extracurricular activities, travel, and more.

Sole and Joint Custody

After a divorce, one parent may retain sole custody of a child or both parents retain joint custody. In a sole custody situation, one parent retains both physical and legal custody of the child. They are the sole decision maker regarding the child’s welfare and the child lives with that parent full-time. Awarding sole custody is rare in California child custody cases, as the courts begin with the presumption that parents should share custody and only award sole custody if a parent can prove that it is not in any way in the child’s best interests for the other parent to have decision making power or a presence in their life.

In most cases, parents share joint custody of a child after a divorce. They may share equally in legal custody, but one parent may retain more physical custody of the child. In this case, the parent that the child spends more time with is considered the custodial parent, whereas the parent that the child spends less time with is the noncustodial parent. In joint custody situations, the couple will create a parenting plan as part of the finalized divorce settlement that includes a custody schedule and delineates other important issues regarding the child’s care.

What are the Best Interests of the Child?

In any issue involving a child, including custody, the courts look at the matter through the lens of what is in the best interests of the child. In California, this means putting the child’s health, safety, and welfare as the primary concern, and keeping in mind that children generally benefit from frequent and continuing contact with both parents. A judge is allowed to consider any relevant factor that may impact these issues when determining issues pertaining to child custody. 

Talk to Our Office Now About California Child Custody Law

If you would like to speak with an experienced California child custody attorney about your case, call or contact Kearney Baker in Pasadena today to schedule a consultation. 


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