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FAQ What is Joint Custody?

FAQ - What is Joint Custody?

Q. What does "joint custody" mean?

A. Custody can be joint or it can be sole. The concept of "primary" or "secondary" parent or custody has no legal meaning, although we hear the terms used frequently. " Sole legal custody" or " sole physical custody," however, are very significant terms with important legal attributes. 

"Joint custody" has historically been an extremely important concept in California custody law. However, it is something of a label too, and as a label things are beginning to change in the sense that the actual arrangement between parents is getting increasing attention in a number of child related contexts. 

joint custody attorneys Joint custody embraces two related concepts: "physical custody" and " legal custody." Family Code section 3002. Physical custody has to do with the periods of time that a child is under the supervision and control of a parent; if a parent has the children, at that moment the parent is a "custodial" parent. Supervision and control does not simply refer to the child physically being in the presence of home of one parent or the other. Instead, it includes school, non-school activities, babysitting and daycare by third persons including grandparents and step-parents, and generally the delegation to others of the task supervising a child even if the parent themselves is working or elsewhere. Hence, physical custody really has to do with which parent of two parents is responsible for the time period in question. 

"'Joint physical custody' means that each of the parents shall have significant periods of physical custody. Joint physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way so as to ensure a child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents...." Family Code section 3004

"Joint legal custody" means that both parents shall share the right and the responsibilities to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child. Family Code section 3003. Per Family Code section 3083, this means that except where the Court specifies when parents must make joint decisions, "either parent acting alone may exercise legal control of the child." 

"'Sole legal custody' means that one parent shall have the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child." FC section 3006. "'Sole physical custody' means that a child shall reside with and be under the supervision of one parent, subject to the power of the court to order visitation." Visitation statutes are found at Family Code sections 3100 et seq. I will address them in another FAQ soon.

Q. What if the other parent and I agree?

A. This is always preferable. In fact, where parents have agreed to joint custody a legal presumption arises "affecting the burden of proof," that joint custody is in fact in the best interest of the child. However, this means that once the parties agree to this, the burden shifts to party who later wants to challenge the arrangement to produce evidence sufficient to upset it, which is not easy. Family Code section 3080

But, even if the parents do not agree, the Court has the power has the power to order joint custody if it determines it is in the BIC of the child pursuant to section 3011. (Section 3081). Again, if asked, the court must state its reasons on the record for or against its decision. (FC 3082). If you are a parent who is displeased with the Court's ruling, you need to politely ask the judge to state these findings!

Q. Why is joint custody important?

A. Besides the obvious qualitative aspects in your relationship with your children, custodial timeshare is extremely important to a parent's rights and ability to resist, or succeed, when one parent wants to relocate or move-away.

Testimonials & Endorsements

  • “Not only is Mr. Peterson’s knowledge of the law beyond measure, he’s able to articulate it so it’s understandable.”
    If you are going through a divorce, The Law Offices of Arnold, Peterson & Criste is in my opinion the best option available. Mr. Peterson and his assistant Jordyn are top notch. Not only is Mr. Peterson’s knowledge of the law beyond measure, he’s able to articulate it so it’s understandable. He was able to navigate my emotions and help my uphill battle to receive proper visitation as a father. Jordyn never hesitated to reach out within the same business day if documents were needed or for any question I had about the process. Thanks to the team, we resolved the divorce healthfully. I couldn’t be more grateful.
    - Josh Arguijo
  • “I needed the best analysis and advice possible. I found Attorney Thurman Arnold III in Palm Springs.”
    I am a Veteran and Retired Deputy Sheriff. My divorce involved complicated property distribution and spousal support issues. I spent considerable time looking for the best Counsel I could find before I negotiated with my ex-wife and her Attorney. In fact, my case was in another county, but that didn't matter. I needed the best analysis and advice possible. I found Attorney Thurman Arnold III in Palm Springs. Attorney Arnold is a BAR Certified Family Law Specialist. In my humble opinion the best! His review of my case and how "Moore Marsden" property division applied was invaluable. His guidance saved me $30,000 dollars. Thank you, Thurman!
    - Jeff Jones
  • “Mike is adept at managing expectations and being very fair and measured.”
    Needed to modify a settlement and hired Mike Peterson. Mike is very, very knowledgeable and experienced. When you are going through a divorce or child custody issues, it is the most terrifying and stressful experience. Mike is adept at managing expectations and being very fair and measured. I wish I had hired him initially to get it all done straight the first time around. He is very responsive and communicative and understands the client well. Good luck going through this process - have a good guide like Mike without a doubt.
    - Donika McKelvie
  • “I would highly recommend him and the firm”
    Micheal Peterson is very knowledgeable of law and can help you make the best decisions for your family. He does is job with integrity. He helps with giving discounts when he can . I would highly recommend him and the firm . Very good staff .
    - Vincent Hall
  • “Very professional, honest, and handled everything without a hiccup.”
    Arnold, Peterson & Criste are a class act. Very professional, honest, and handled everything without a hiccup. When a year had passed, he and Jordyn contacted me to let me know I still had retainer on the books! I had forgot and they sent me the money anyway! For this I am very grateful and cannot recommend them enough. You won’t go wrong with Thurman Arnold. He is definitely the guy to have on your side.
    - Matt Feenstra
  • “Simply the Best of the Best!!!”
    I Highly Recommend Michael C. Peterson at the Law Office of Thurman W. Arnold!!! I hired Michael for my custody case and he is very knowledgeable and took the time to educate me on the process so we can put together a winning strategy. He fought for me and my children in court and successfully won our case. There are no words to describe how grateful and appreciative I am for Michaels service!!! If you are sitting on the fence on which Attorney to hire, do yourself a favor and hire Michael. I would not recommend anyone else!!! Simply the Best of the Best!!!
    - John and Lukes Tube
  • “Mike amazes me by his knowledge of my case, made me feel like I was his only client.”

    I reached out to this law firm 2 years ago when my life was falling apart. My case was assigned to attorney Michael Peterson. I didn't know much about him except few reviews on google but I'm glad I hit the jackpot. Mike amazes me by his knowledge of my case, made me feel like I was his only client. He's very responsive, respectful and and goes above and…

    - Damaris M.
  • “He and Michael Peterson are truly masters of their craft.”
    When my clients have family law issues, I routinely refer them to Thurman Arnold. He and Michael Peterson are truly masters of their craft. Family law can be an unwieldy beast, but they handle it with precision and finesse.
    - Edward Cross

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