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What does California law say about child custody?

Getting a divorce often means that children are involved. In California, the state law complies with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act that the federal government has put in place. The law has provisions for not only parents but also grandparents. However, joint custody and visitation rights are the main focus. This act fosters a sense of legal cooperation in case one of the parents is located in a different state. It was enacted in 1973.

California allows for joint legal custody and if the child is old enough, the court will hear from the child who he or she wants to live with. It goes without saying that best interests of the child are what the court looks to in all custody cases. The age of the child, what kind of ties he or she has with a school or community are observed, the child's health and emotional ties to one parent or the other are carefully examined.

If the child or parent has been neglected or abused, the court will need to determine how that occurred and which parent will be the safest and best person for full custody. A parenting plan will be written at this point. This lays out the details of the custody and should be the starting point for visitation, joint custody or full custody for one parent or the other. It may take some negotiation, but if the two of you can come up with a plan instead of leaving it to the court, you will come out so much better in the end.

If, for some reason, your child will be living with your ex-spouse, there will need to be visitation rights established. As you and your child grow, these plans may change, so you may need to go back to court to have the visitation schedule changed legally.

Knowing the laws of California can go a long way to helping you get the type of custody arrangements that you need. The California Family Code is a good place to begin.

Source: FindLaw, "California child custody laws," accessed Aug. 24, 2015

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