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Types of child custody and what they mean for your family

When a California family goes through divorce, it can affect the youngest members of the family in various ways. Because of the potentially negative impact of the end of a marriage, many parents strive to develop parenting plans that allow for stability and security for the children. A strong plan likely involves allowing the children to have regular access to both parents. 

If your divorce proceedings are underway, you may have serious concerns about the well-being of your children. It is beneficial to consider the long-term impact of any choices you make, while not allowing temporary emotions to drive your decision-making. When considering joint custody or a shared parenting plan, it is useful to understand the types of custody and what they may mean for your kids and your role in their lives.

Clearly understand your role 

Navigating the aftermath of a divorce can be complex and messy. It is sometimes difficult to work with the other parent, even when both of you are completely committed to parenting well together. One way to avoid issues is to clearly and completely understand your role regarding both physical and legal custody. The differences between these two are as follows:

  • Legal custody: Legal custody refers to the right one parent has to make important decisions for the child. This could affect your say in matters pertaining to education, religious upbringing and more. Parents may share legal custody, but often, one parent retains this right, even if sharing physical custody.
  • Physical custody: Physical custody is the time that you will actually be able to spend with your children. This deals with weekend visitation, holiday visits, vacations and much more.

If drafting a parenting plan, it is prudent to carefully spell out the terms of both legal custody and physical custody. This clarity can help you avoid complications and issues that can eventually lead to disputes between you and the other parent. 

How can you protect your rights?

You have certain rights as a parent, and it is beneficial to take steps to protect your interests at every step of the process of deciding on a custody and visitation plan. If you have concerns about what your relationship with your children will look like after the divorce is final or your rights as a parent, you are entitled to seek guidance. Do not delay in getting the help you need to protect your parental rights and the interests of your children.

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