Types of Child Custody in California

Two Happy Children - Child Custody in CaliforniaWe have come a long way in California from the days when child custody meant that the child lived with one parent who made the important child-raising decisions while the other parent had visitation. Fortunately, the laws in May 2015 are a lot different than before. We now recognize that children of parents who are divorced or separated benefit from having both parents sharing parenting responsibilities.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Santa Ana:

There are four types of custody that parents in Santa Ana can agree upon or that judges may order when the parents cannot reach an agreement:

• Sole legal custody
• Joint legal custody
• Sole physical custody
• Joint physical custody

State law is clear that California favors joint custody arrangements whether by agreement of the parents or made by a judge.

Father and two boys - Child Custody in CaliforniaLegal Custody Orders in California

A parent granted legal custody through an agreement with the other parent that is approved by a judge has the right to make key parenting decisions. Parenting decisions are those normally associated with raising a child, and they may include the following issues:

• Education
• Health care
• Religion

If only one parent has sole legal custody, then the other parent will not have the right to consult with school officials or doctors. This also means that the parent without legal custody would not have the right to be consulted about decisions made by the other parent.

When a judge grants joint legal custody to both parents, it allows them to remain involved in raising their children. Usually, joint legal custody gives each parent an equal say in the decision-making process which can require cooperation between the parents in order to avoid being back in court.

California Physical Custody

Judges must also decide on physical custody. Physical custody is with whom the child will live. Parents may share legal custody, but physical custody could be with one parent to make it easier for the child attending school. Sometimes, a joint physical custody arrangement might work, but it does not automatically mean the time spent living with each parent is equal.

Reaching Agreement About Parenting

We should strive to reach agreements on legal and physical custody that work for each of us and our children instead of leaving it up to a judge to decide.


If you are seeking legal advice or guidance, call the Law Offices of William M. Strachan at (714) 841-1932.