Carly works for the State in Downtown Sacramento and her ex-husband Dan works at Google in Mountain View. They have one child who lives and goes to high school in Sacramento. Carly and Dan’s court order states the mother has primary physical custody, Dan has weekend visitation, and joint legal custody with their daughter Jessica.
Recently, Dan called Carly and told her he wants Jessica to stay with him in Mountain View for the entire summer. Carly responded by saying that request was impossible because Jessica has summer activities in place and she needed to stay in Sacramento. Dan replied, “get-over-it Carly, she’s my kid too and I already discussed it with her. She’s coming here the weekend school is let out. I’m just letting you know.” Carly hung up and immediately called her family law attorney.
While some of us without kids would think, “Wow! She gets a whole summer to herself!” This is NOT the interpretation for most parents. When the court makes an order for child custody there are clear indicators trouble is about to happen when conversations like Carly and Dan’s arise. One clear indicator is when one parent says, “I want my kids” followed by a “tough, deal with it.” Such statements are generally red flags for family law practitioners because of the cause and effect of one parent’s actions.
These arguments signal several family law issues: (1) file for child custody orders (if orders are not currently in place) or (2) a motion to modify a current child custody order. If a party has child support in place, the time the child spends with the new parent may modify an existing award (check with your family law attorney for the answer to this). Whichever the case may be, this usually requires speed dialing your family law attorney and preparing your documents for court.
What does Child Custody and Visitation Mean?
Child custody means both physical and legal custody. Physical custody is where the child sleeps overnight, and legal custody pertains to the health, education, and welfare of the child. A child in California is considered to a minor under the age of eighteen (18) who is not emancipated from high school.
Joint legal custody doesn’t mean exactly 50% between both parents. The actual percentages may vary based on various situations. However, joint physical custody generally means each parent participates in significant time with the child which doesn’t have to be equal time share.
Family law “visitation” means “time-share” to the parent who has less physical custody. A parent with less than half physical custody is provided scheduled visitation time with their child. A schedule may be created by both parents (outside court) of if the parents are unable to agree, the court will make an order for them.
How can a family law attorney assist with this matter?
Here are some common questions our attorneys can answer during your consultation.
Question: We have joint legal custody; do we have to agree on everything?
Question: We have joint physical custody; does that required a 50/50 split?
Question: I don’t want the children to move between both houses all the time, how can I achieve this?
Question: Can I take my children out of the country for the summer?
Question: Do I need the other parent’s permission to travel outside the country with the children?
Question: Can I get passports for my children without the other parent?
Question: I want my child to switch schools near me; can I do that before summer?
For more information, feel free to review The Judicial Branch of California, California Courts website.
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