California law recognizes two custody concepts: legal custody and physical custody. In the majority of cases, the court will order, or the parties will agree to, "joint custody," which the Family Code defines as joint legal custody and joint physical custody. The legal effect of this is: (1) that both parents share the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to their children's health, education, and welfare, and (2) that each parent is entitled to significant periods of physical custody. In practice, this means that the court or the parties attempt to fashion a custody-sharing schedule that comes as close to 50/50, considering the parents' and the children's schedules.
The court may also award one party sole legal custody or sole physical custody. This often happens when there are issues of child abuse, spousal abuse, or substance abuse. A Family Court judge's first obligation is to ensure that children are safe and in a protected environment. Sole custody awards are a means of carrying out this duty.
A custody modification is a court action that we file on your behalf when you want to change a final court order that determines where your child lives and with whom he or she visits. This order might be a custody decree, a residential schedule, or a parenting plan. The parenting plan may be between you and your ex-spouse, you and an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, or between you and someone else who has been taking care of the child, such as another relative. At Langley Law Firm, we know that situations change and that is why custody modifications can happen years after finalizing a divorce. We are adept at navigating through all of the different factors within this process and consistently getting favorable results for our clients.
In many cases, following a separation or divorce, parents decide to move because they can no longer afford to live in the same city or land a new job or need to be closer to extended family for financial or emotional support. Whatever the reason, when a parent desires to move, difficult decisions have to be made regarding where the children will live and how the other parent will maintain a relationship with them.
The move-away laws are complicated and confusing, and there are many factors involved in the outcome. At Langley Law Firm, we know that these situations can be emotional and contentious in some cases, so finding an agreement that both parties can live with is our number one goal.
For more information about legal custody, physical custody, join custody or custody modification in Walnut Creek, please use our Contact Us form.