How Legal Custody Differs from Physical Custody in CA

Pleasanton CA child custodyWe’ve noticed that when most parents think of having parental custody of their child, they think of physical custody. This is certainly a part of custody in California, but what many don’t know is that the other half of the custody picture involves legal custody.

This can be initially confusing to many of our clients so for this post, we thought it would be helpful for us to write a quick overview of this topic. We at the Law Offices of James P. White want to remind you that the information here is general, and we invite you to contact our seasoned family law attorneys directly if you’re looking for legal advice meant for your specific situation and needs.

Physical Custody

Physical custody involves arrangements that center on where the child is to live after the divorce is finalized. In other words, the parent whom the child lives with during the majority of the year is known as the “custodial parent,” or the parent who holds physical custody over the child.

Other aspects of physical custody include visitation rights and summer/holiday schedules. Another thing to note is that physical custody can be split equally between both parents, with the child generally alternating between both homes during different periods of the year.

Legal Custody

On the other hand, legal custody centers on a parent’s authority to make major decisions on behalf of his or her child. This includes decisions such as where the child will attend school, if he/she is to have a religious upbringing, and most decisions involving the healthcare of the child.

In the state of CA, the family law courts favor equal physical and legal custody whenever possible, with exceptions being made only in cases where either parent is unable to work with the other, if a parent is unfit to fulfill his/her parental duties, and other factors that could interfere with the child’s best interests.

Want to Learn More?

This post should help clear the air about the differences between legal custody and physical custody in CA. If you’re looking for more in-depth advice, or to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled and compassionate family law attorneys, remember that the Law Offices of James P. White is here to help.

Give us a call at your earliest convenience to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our legal experts.