Understanding Child Custody Laws

Affectionate mother reading book with adorable toddler daughter

Understanding Different Types of Child Custody

Legal Custody: Rights and Responsibilities

Legal custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of a parent to make major decisions regarding their child's upbringing. These decisions may include choices about education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. In most cases, courts in San Francisco, CA, prefer to award joint legal custody, allowing both parents to share these responsibilities. However, if one parent is deemed unfit or if parents cannot cooperate, sole legal custody may be granted to one parent.

Physical Custody: Defining Primary Residence

Physical custody, on the other hand, determines where the child will primarily reside. A parent with sole physical custody will have the child live with them most of the time. However, the other parent, often referred to as the noncustodial parent, is typically granted visitation rights. Joint physical custody arrangements, where the child spends significant time with both parents, are also common. These arrangements require a high level of cooperation between parents and are often contingent on their proximity to each other.

Modifying Child Custody Arrangements

Change in Circumstances: When Modification is Necessary

Sometimes, a change in circumstances may necessitate a modification of the child custody arrangement. This could be due to a parent's relocation, a significant change in the child's needs, or a change in the parent's ability to care for the child. Courts will not modify an arrangement without a compelling reason and will always consider the child's best interests.

Impact of Relocation on Custody Arrangements

Relocation can significantly impact child custody arrangements. If a parent with custody wishes to move, especially out of state, they may need the court's permission. The court will consider the reasons for the move, the distance, and how the move will affect the child's relationship with the other parent. If the move is deemed to be in the child's best interests, the court may allow it, but the custody arrangement may need to be modified.

If you're navigating a child custody dispute or need to modify a custody arrangement, it's crucial to have experienced legal guidance. At Nachlis | Cohade | Lopez-Whitaker, LLP, we specialize in family law and have a deep understanding of the child custody laws in San Francisco, CA. We can help you understand your rights, advocate for your interests, and work towards a resolution that serves your child's best interests. Contact Nachlis | Cohade | Lopez-Whitaker, LLP today for a consultation.

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