Child Custody in California: The Laws You Need to Know

A woman with her kids

A couple’s divorce, annulment, or legal separation always raises concerns for the welfare of their children. If you’re looking for child custody lawyers in Chico, there are some relevant laws that you should be aware of.

We’ve put together some information on child custody in California below:

Types of Child Custody in California

The term ‘child custody’ covers every aspect of a child’s upbringing.

There are four types of child custody:

Physical Custody

Having physical custody means you can have your child live with you in your home. The other parent will usually be granted visitation rights.

Physical custody may also be shared, which doesn’t give equal time to both parents.

The terms and conditions of visitation can vary greatly. A court may allow weekend stays, or it may restrict visitation to a few hours per week under supervision.

Legal Custody

Having sole legal custody of your child gives you the right to make decisions on their behalf. These decisions may be related to schooling, healthcare, and the general welfare of your child.

When both parents of a child are given joint legal custody, they must make all decisions together.

Sole Custody

Sole custody allows the child to live with one parent only. The parent with sole custody can make all decisions for their child.

The law prefers keeping both parents in a child’s life, so sole custody is granted when:

  • One parent is unfit or poses a risk to the child’s safety
  • One parent’s lifestyle may put the child in danger
  • Both parents are unable to cooperate

Joint Custody

Since it also involves physical, legal, and sole custody, the terms of joint custody are customized, keeping in mind a child’s welfare.

Joint legal custody, for example, doesn’t always guarantee joint physical custody.

In other cases, a mother may have sole physical custody, whereas she might share joint legal custody with the father of her child.

A father and his child

Important Child Custody Laws in California

Equal Entitlement

Under Section 3010 of the California Family Code, a child custody evaluation is started with no bias towards either parent. The evaluation begins with the belief that both parents are equally entitled to custody.

Best Interests

Under Section 3011, all custody decisions made by the court prioritize the child’s best interests. This includes the child’s health, safety, and well-being.

Child’s Opinion

If a child is of 14 years or older and can express a preference, the court will take such an expression into account and give it its due importance.

Under Section 3042, children younger than 14 may also express their preference, but it won’t be considered as important.

Sharing Custody

Under Section 3002, the law prefers that parents share legal custody, physical custody, or both. This is generally considered better for the child, unless there’s evidence to the contrary.

Changing Terms of Custody

Under Section 3087, the law allows either parent to request changes in custody arrangements or visitation terms.

Connecting with experienced child custody and visitation lawyers in Chico can help you secure your child’s best interests. As one of the trusted Chico Child Custody Law Firms, The Law Offices of Ron Marquez is here to help you with your child support and child custody case. Contact us today to get started.


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