There is not merely one type of child custody, but rather a few. One type is legal custody and refers to the person who makes the legal decisions for the children, such as where the child attends school, medical treatment, and even driving privileges. Another type of custody is physical custody, meaning which parent the child actually lives with. Often, but not always, when one parent has primary physical custody the other parent will have visitation rights, which is another type of custody. Custody is often a very delicate area of the law that deeply touches parents.
In order to understand the process, it is important to appreciate certain overriding features of California law. The public policy in this state, which has been codified in the Family Code, is: (1) that children should have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated, dissolved their marriage, or ended their relationship; and (2) to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy, except where the contact would not be in the best interest of the child.
When the parties are unable to agree on a parenting plan or schedule they both will be ordered to attend a mandatory mediation at Family Court Services. In both that mediation process and at any subsequent Court hearing, the focus will be on the “Best Interest of the Child” not on what is “fair” to the parents. Some of the factors that might be considered in determining the Best Interest of the Child are the following:
1. The child’s gender, age, physical and mental health;
2. The child’s established day-to-day schedule;
3. How changing the current living situation might impact the child;
4. The parent’s physical and mental health;
5. Domestic violence in the home;
6. Physical or mental abuse in the home;
7. The parents’ lifestyle;
8. Emotional connection between the parent and child;
9. The parents’ ability to provide for the child; and
10. Each parent’s ability and willingness to foster contact and healthy communication between the child and the other parent.
Daniel Geraldi can assist clients in presenting to the Court why one parent should have primary custody or why one parent should or should not be denied joint custody. He is experienced in representing these interests in all aspects of custody proceedings. He regularly handles such cases throughout the East Bay and has even served as a court appointed minor’s counsel in custody disputes in Contra Costa County Superior Court. His experience in this area is broad. He has tried many high conflict cases that include difficult issues, such as special needs children, move away efforts, international custody disputes and substance abuse by one or both parents. If you have further questions relating to child custody, contact Daniel Geraldi at (925) 236-0045.