Child Custody

Types of Custody Arrangements:

There are six basic types of custody orders possible for parents in determining custody of their minor children:

1. Joint Custody: If you obtain an order of "joint custody," this means you and your ex have been awarded joint physical custody and joint legal custody (See Family Code §3002)

2. Joint Legal Custody: If you and your ex have an order providing for "joint legal custody," this means the court has separated the legal and physical custody of the children, and you will also have a provision in the order addressing physical custody. Joint legal custody means both parents have equal responsibility for decisions regarding the children’s health education and welfare (See Family Code §3003)

3. Joint Physical Custody: An order for "joint physical custody" means each parent has "‘significant;’ periods of physical custody." Parents, in a "joint physical custody" order, must share physical custody with each other in a way that "assures a child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, subject to Sections 3011 and 3020." (See Family Code §3004). Section 3011 of the Family Code addresses all the factors a court must consider in determining custody. Section 3020 of the Family Code allows a court to make orders as may be appropriate to protect the interests of minor children—an especially important provision of the Family Code in situations involving domestic violence or drug abuse.

4. Sole Legal Custody: If your order provides for "sole legal custody," this means the court has awarded the parent with sole legal custody "the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of a child." (See Family Code §3006)

5. Sole Physical Custody: An award of "sole physical custody" "means that a child shall reside with and be under the supervision of one parent, subject to the power of the court to order visitation." (Family Code §3007

6. Primary Physical Custody: This type of order or arrangement is not found in the Family Code. Nevertheless, it has been interpreted in the context of a parent’s relocating as allowing a court to review the custody arrangements "de novo" (anew). (See Brody v. Kroll 45 Cal.App.4th 1732, 53 Cal.Rptr.2d 280 (1996)).


Copyright © 1999 Roy A. Barry, all rights reserved.