Parental Agreements In A Divorce Or Separation

When a divorce or separation involves children, issues of child custody and visitation are critical. In California, there is a presumption in family law that the "best interests of children" are served by frequent and continuing contact with both parents. However, the court takes into consideration all the facts of each case to determine the most appropriate child custody arrangement and timeshare schedule.

Types Of Child Custody

Physical custody (where a child lives) is distinct from legal custody (who can make decisions on a child's behalf). The different types of child custody arrangements include:

  • Joint physical custody, where both parents have significant periods of physical custody of the child
  • Sole physical custody, where the child lives primarily with and is under the supervision of one parent
  • Joint legal custody, where both parents retain the right and responsibility to make decisions related to the health, education and welfare of the child
  • Sole legal custody, where one parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions related to the health, education and welfare of the child

If you have children with a spouse or domestic partner and are seeking a divorce or legal separation, you will need to agree on child custody as well as visitation frequency. If you are unable to agree, a judge will make orders regarding custody and visitation. Many factors must be considered in determining appropriate custody and visitation, including:

  • The child's age
  • The relationship between the child's parents
  • The relationship of the child with each parent
  • Living arrangements for stability and safety
  • Any psychological, developmental or physical needs

Resolving Custody And Visitation Disputes

There are many ways for parents to resolve child custody and visitation agreements. If the two parties are separating or divorcing amicably, then mediation or private judging may provide the best solution. If both parties agree to hire a mediator, the process of finding a mutually agreeable custody solution is efficient. It also may avoid unnecessary disruption for the child.

However, custody issues can be difficult to resolve. Parents love their children and find it hard to give up being a part of a child's everyday life. If the parties cannot agree on child custody or visitation terms, then court involvement may be necessary.

Remember, the court seeks to find a solution that is in the "best interest of the children." As a result, custody decisions are usually made early in divorce proceedings to avoid unnecessary disruptions to a child's everyday life. In California, when the parents go to court because they cannot agree on custody or visitation, the judge is required to send the parents to Family Court Services (FCS) in most cases.

Consult An Experienced Family Law Attorney

The lawyers at Viola Law P.C. can help you through the process of determining child custody and visitation agreements. These discussions are rarely easy, but you will have us by your side every step of the way. To get started, call us at 650-532-9389 or fill out our secure online form. With an office in downtown San Mateo, we represent clients throughout the Bay Area and Northern California.

Have more questions about child custody and visitation agreements? Check out our Child Custody and Visitation Q&A.