Most parents don't even want to think about having to go through the court system to be able to care for their child. For parents who are divorcing, going through that very procedure is part of the process. For parents in California, knowing what to expect as you go through the child custody proceedings might help to take some of the stress off of you.
One of the best things you can do when you are facing a child custody battle is to try to work with the other parent to determine a parenting plan. As easy as it is to fall into the thought of you and the other parent being against each other, raising a child takes a team effort. You might be able to get the entire endeavor off to a good start by simply being willing to work with the other parent. In some cases, however, that won't work.
In either case, it is important for you to keep your child's interests at the heart of all decisions that are made. If you and the other parent can come together to create a parenting plan, you should make sure that the plan complies with all California laws, which might mean taking the time to learn complex laws and how to apply them. This is why an attorney's advice can be so beneficial.
You and your child's other parent might be able to come up with a mutually agreeable parenting plan. If that is the case, you should be prepared to draw up the agreement and file it in the appropriate manner, which includes signing the agreement, having it reviewed and having it filed with the court after a judge signs it. If you can't come up with an agreement, you will have to ask the court to determine these issues.
Source: FindLaw, "California Child Custody Procedure" Sep. 04, 2014