Why You Need a Child Custody Attorney in Los Angeles

Updated: Apr 22

Find a Family Lawyer in Los Angeles for Child Custody Disputes


The court will always consider what is best for the child when deciding child custody. Although each parent can have their own ideas about how the child should be cared for, California law requires the court to start with two assumptions. First and foremost, the child's fitness, protection, and welfare must be prioritized. Second, the court assumes that children do well when they see both parents on a regular basis.


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How is Child Custody Decided in California?


"Health, protection, and welfare" is an umbrella word used in child custody proceedings to cover a wide range of conditions and circumstances. Fathers, for example, may not have parental rights over children born as a result of the mother's abuse. In addition, judges are less likely to grant custody or visitation to a parent who has been convicted of child abuse, and they are more likely to restrict both if there is proof of spouse abuse, child abuse, or drug abuse.


The parent and child's emotional attachments, the parent's history of engagement with the child's life and activities, and the parent's capacity to provide for the child's everyday needs are all factors that positively affect a judge's decision. The judge may also decide which parent is more likely to support the other parent's relationship and touch.

When deciding about a child's health, the child's wishes are important, particularly if the child is older or more mature. In addition, the court will make every effort to hold siblings together.

What Is Legal Custody and How Does It Work?


The right to make big decisions regarding a child's welfare, health, and education is known as "legal custody." Here are examples:

  • Where will a child attend school?

  • Whether or not a child may participate in religious events, as well as

  • Whether or not the child should be seen by a doctor (except in emergencies)


Joint Legal Custody


"Joint legal custody" is when both parents share the right and duty to make decisions about a child's health, education, and welfare, according to California law. (California Family Code 3003.) In California, joint legal custody is common. However, just because parents have joint legal custody does not mean they will have joint physical custody. (California Family Code 3085.)


If one of the following applies, parents usually share joint legal custody:

  • The parents are completely incapable of making decisions together.

  • One parent is deemed unfit by the court.

  • one parent is incapable of making decisions about the child's education and overall health, or

  • It would be in the best interests of the child if one parent had sole legal custody.


Sole Legal Custody


"Sole legal custody" is when only one parent has the authority to make all significant decisions about a child's health, education, and welfare and that such decisions can be made without consulting the other parent. (California Family Code 3006.) A parent's sole legal custody does not imply that he or she may not have sole physical custody.


What Is Physical Custody and How Does It Work?


After a divorce or separation, "physical custody" refers to where a child may live. Judicial custody is not the same as physical custody. The infant has the right to be physically present in the home of the parent who has physical custody. When a child lives with one parent solely or predominantly, that parent is referred to as the "custodial" or "residential" parent. While the other parent is referred to as the "noncustodial" or "non-residential" parent, and he or she usually has visitation rights.