Joint Custody vs Shared Custody in California: What You Need to Know

photo of a child. Joint Custody vs Shared Custody in California

Divorce is challenging for any couple, but when you add children to the situation, things can get even more complicated. Sometimes, parents may need clarification on joint and shared custody terms. Understanding the difference between joint and shared custody in California is essential to coming to a fair agreement.

Many people assume these are two different names but mean the same thing, and in several states, that is true. However, these terms in California refer to two different ways to address child custody. This article will explain joint custody vs. shared custody in California and discuss the differences.

Physical vs. Legal Custody

Before we explore joint and shared custody, we must understand that two matters are involved when discussing child custody: physical and legal.

  • Physical custody addresses who and where the child lives with.
  • Legal custody addresses the parent’s right to make significant decisions for the child.

What is Joint Custody?

Joint Legal Custody

Joint legal custody is an arrangement that requires both parents to agree on important decisions for their child. When parents have joint custody, they are responsible for making significant decisions about their child’s welfare, including education, medical care, and religious upbringing. Parents must collaborate and communicate effectively to agree on major decisions affecting their children.

Joint Physical Custody

Joint physical custody aims to ensure the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents to ensure they maintain a close and continuous relationship with both parents. However, this doesn’t mean that equal time is spent with each parent. Instead, the child’s time is divided in a way that supports their best interests, which may not always result in an equal split.

What is Shared Custody?

Shared custody is often used interchangeably with joint custody, particularly joint physical custody, but it emphasizes equal time and responsibilities between parents. This arrangement requires careful planning to maintain the child’s routine and stability.

It also requires a high level of cooperation and flexibility from both parents. The court typically aims for a schedule that minimizes disruption to the child’s schooling, social life, and overall well-being.

Key Differences Between Joint and Shared Custody in California

While joint and shared custody can overlap, especially concerning physical custody, their differences lie in the specifics of time division and decision-making responsibilities. Let’s examine some of the differences.

Decision-Making (Legal Custody)

  • Joint Legal Custody — Both parents share the decision-making responsibilities. This doesn’t impact the child’s living arrangement but requires joint participation when making significant life decisions.
  • Shared Custody — Although shared custody implies joint physical custody, it can also encompass shared legal custody, in which both parents have an equal say in decisions.

Living Arrangements (Physical Custody)

  • Joint Physical Custody — The child lives with both parents, but not necessarily equally. Depending on the child’s best interest, one parent may have the child during the week and the other during weekends or holidays.
  • Shared Physical Custody—The child spends approximately equal time with each parent. This requires detailed scheduling and cooperation to balance the child’s needs with the parents’ capacities.

Flexibility and Practicality

  • Joint custody offers more flexibility. It allows arrangements that fit the child’s and parents’ specific circumstances. It’s less rigid about equal time division but emphasizes the involvement of both parents in the child’s life.
  • Shared custody strives for a balanced time split, which can be challenging for parents who have demanding jobs or live far apart. It requires a commitment to maintaining a structured schedule that benefits the child.

Factors the Court Considers When Determining Custody Arrangements

The court’s primary concern is the child’s best interests. Here are some factors the court considers when determining custody arrangements in California.

  • Child’s Health, Safety, and Welfare — The court evaluates which arrangement best supports the child’s well-being.
  • Parental Cooperation — Parents who demonstrate effective communication and cooperation are more likely to receive joint or shared custody.
  • Child’s Preference — Depending on the child’s age and maturity, the court may consider the child’s preference.
  • Parental Involvement — The court assesses each parent’s involvement in the child’s life, including their ability to provide a stable environment.
  • History of Abuse or Neglect — Any history of abuse or neglect by a parent can significantly impact custody decisions.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika for Your Child Custody Case

Navigating custody arrangements in California requires a clear understanding of joint and shared custody differences. While both aim to keep both parents involved in the child’s life, they differ in terms of decision-making responsibilities and physical time division. By prioritizing the child’s best interests and fostering cooperative parenting, parents can create a nurturing and supportive environment, regardless of the custody arrangements.

When children are involved in a divorce, they become the priority. At Azemika & Azemika, we understand how important it is to protect the best interests of your children while protecting your rights as a parent during a divorce.

Our team of attorneys will help you understand the laws and procedures for navigating child custody issues in California. We actively engage in settlement in negotiations or litigating your child custody case.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Does Income Matter in California Custody Battles


Child custody is often one of the most controversial issues when parents go through a divorce. One of the biggest concerns that some parents face is how their income and finances affect their chances of getting custody of their children.

Understanding California’s custody laws and how the courts handle custody arrangements can help you know what to expect as you begin the divorce process. This article will discuss California law regarding how your income and finances can impact the court’s custody decision and parental finances, as well as other factors that can affect a custody case.

Types of Child Custody in California

The court will look at the evidence in the case when determining the type of custody in your child’s best interest. In California, the two main types of child custody are:

  • Legal custody gives the parent the right to make decisions for the child that will affect their life. Some of these decisions include medical, religious, and educational decisions. The only way a parent makes the decisions with legal custody of the child is if the decisions put the child at risk.
  • Physical custody establishes which parent the child will reside with. If the child lives with you at least part of the time, you have physical custody of the child.

The nature of the custody order will explain whether you will share custody with someone else.

  • Joint custody means you and the other party will share rights to the child. Both parents will have a say in making decisions about the child.
  • Sole custody means you are the only person with custody of the child. You have been given the sole authority to make all of the child’s decisions, and the child lives with you all the time.

How is Child Custody Affected by a Parent’s Income in California?

California family courts prioritize the child’s best interest when determining child custody. This takes precedence over any other factor. However, while income and finances aren’t expressly stated in child custody statutes, they can influence the court’s decision of what is in the child’s best interest.

During a child custody case, the court will examine the income of each parent and their ability to support the child. They will also look into the financial resources of both parents. If one parent makes significantly more than the other, they will more likely be able to provide for the child so that they may have an advantage in a child custody case.

Mitigating Financial Differences Between Parents

If one parent is a stay-at-home parent with little to no job experience, that doesn’t mean they will automatically lose custody of the child. Instead, the courts may award child support to the lower-earning parent to ensure the child is financially supported in the same way they were before the divorce. Alimony is also a way to even out each parent’s income level.

However, it’s essential to understand that if a parent’s lack of income prevents that parent from providing a safe, stable home for the child, that could affect the outcome of their custody case. Before the courts award custody, they must be shown that a parent can provide a safe home for the child.

Other Factors That Affect Child Custody in California

Child custody is never automatically granted to a mother or a father in a California divorce. The judge will review various factors to ensure the custody decision they make suits the child’s specific needs.

Physical and legal custody will be determined according to the child’s best interest, and a judge may consider the following factors.

  • The child’s age
  • If the child has special needs
  • Whether the child is established at school, church, or their hometown
  • If they are old enough, the child’s wishes
  • The child’s bond with each parent
  • If there is a history of domestic violence
  • Each parent’s history of substance abuse and their criminal history

While the courts won’t award custody to a parent only because they make more money than the other, money may become a factor when looking into other matters. For example, if financial issues stem from a substance abuse problem, the courts will consider that.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika for Expert Legal Representation for Your Child Custody Case

In child custody cases in California, while the court considers a parent’s income and finances, they are not the sole factor when determining custody. While the child’s best interest remains at the forefront, the courts strive to create custody arrangements that will nurture the child and their overall well-being. Seeking the assistance of an experienced child custody attorney can help parents navigate child custody challenges more effectively.

At Azemika & Azemika, our practice is exclusively devoted to family law cases. That allows our team of expert family law attorneys to handle all types of family law cases with efficiency and great attention to detail. We use extensive experience to customize each case to our client’s needs.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Debunked: 8 Myths About Child Custody in California

child custody

Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and complex, and in California, they are governed by state laws designed to protect the child’s best interests. Unfortunately, misunderstandings and misconceptions often surround the topic of child custody, leading to confusion and stress for parents involved in custody battles.

This article will explore and debunk some of California’s most common and popular misconceptions about child custody. Keep reading to learn the truth behind eight common misconceptions about child custody in California.

Misconception 1: Mothers Always Get Custody

One of the most persistent myths about child custody is the belief that mothers automatically receive primary custody. In California, the courts make custody decisions based on the child’s best interests, not the gender of the parent. The legal system aims to ensure that both parents have an equal opportunity to establish and maintain a meaningful relationship with their child.

In cases where parents can agree on a custody arrangement, the court is more likely to approve it. However, if parents cannot agree, the court will consider various factors, such as each parent’s ability to provide a stable and loving environment, the child’s age and health, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.

Misconception 2: Joint Custody Means Equal Time

Another common misconception is that joint custody guarantees an equal division of time between parents. While joint custody may involve shared decision-making responsibilities, it does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split in parenting time.

California family courts prioritize arrangements that promote the child’s best interests, which may involve one parent having more time with the child while the other parent has visitation rights. The specific custody arrangement will depend on the unique circumstances of the case. Still, California courts aim to maintain stability and routine in the child’s life while allowing both parents to play an active role.

In contrast, shared custody typically implies a more balanced division of time between parents, striving for a closer approximation to equal parenting time.

Misconception 3: Child Custody Decisions Are Permanent

Some parents mistakenly believe that a child custody order cannot be modified once it is in place. However, child custody orders in California can be modified if a significant change in circumstances warrants it. Such changes might include a parent’s relocation, changes in the child’s needs or preferences, or concerns about the child’s safety.

Parents should work with their attorneys and follow the legal process to request modifications when necessary. Courts will always prioritize the child’s best interests when considering child custody modification requests.

Misconception 4: Custody Is Solely Determined by the Child’s Age

It is a misconception that custody decisions in California are solely based on the child’s age. While the child’s age is a factor the court considers, it is not the only one. Instead, the court evaluates a range of factors, including the child’s physical and emotional well-being, the ability of each parent to provide a stable and nurturing environment, and the child’s relationship with each parent.

Older children may have more input in the decision-making process, but ultimately, the court’s primary concern is the child’s best interests, regardless of their age.

Misconception 5: Child Support and Child Custody Are the Same

Child custody and child support are distinct legal matters. Child custody pertains to the physical and legal care of the child, including decision-making authority and parenting time. On the other hand, child support involves financial contributions from one parent to the other to cover the child’s needs, such as education, healthcare, and daily expenses.

While these matters are related, they are not interchangeable, and a parent’s custody rights are not dependent on their child support payment. California law separates them to ensure children receive financial support and emotional care.

Misconception 6: Custody Battles Always Go to Court

Many parents fear that child custody disputes inevitably lead to courtroom battles. In reality, the California legal system encourages parents to reach mutually agreeable custody arrangements through mediation or negotiation rather than litigation. Court proceedings can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining for all parties involved.

Mediation or collaborative divorce processes can help parents work together to create a custody plan that best serves their child’s interests. The court should be a last resort when parents cannot reach an agreement.

Misconception 7: Only Biological Parents Have Custody Rights

Non-biological parents, such as stepparents or domestic partners, can also have custody rights in California. The court will consider the relationship between the non-biological parent and the child, including the duration and nature of their involvement in the child’s life. In cases where it is in the child’s best interests, non-biological parents may be granted custody or visitation rights.

Misconception 8: Parents Can Move Out of State with the Child Without Permission

Parents often assume they can move out of state with their child without seeking permission from the other parent or the court. However, California law requires a parent who wishes to move with their child more than 50 miles away from the other parent to obtain the court’s approval or the other parent’s consent.

Relocation cases can be complex, as they involve evaluating how the move will affect the child’s relationship with both parents. Parents must understand and follow the legal requirements to avoid violating custody orders.

Azemika & Azemika Can Help Answer All of Your Child Custody Questions in California

Navigating child custody in California can be challenging, but dispelling common misconceptions is the first step toward making informed decisions. Understanding that custody decisions are based on the child’s best interests, rather than gender or age, and knowing the potential for modification and the importance of parental cooperation can help parents approach custody matters more confidently and responsibly. Seeking legal guidance and exploring alternatives to litigation, such as mediation, can also lead to more amicable solutions that prioritize the child’s well-being during this difficult time.

If you’re looking for a qualified, experienced family law attorney for your child custody case, look no further than Azemika & Azemika. Our partners have exclusively handled family law cases in Kern County for over three decades. Our vast experience in family law cases allows us to customize each case to our client’s needs.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Is It Time to Hire a Lawyer for Your Child Custody Matter? Here’s How to Know

child custody

Child custody battles can be emotionally and legally complex, often requiring the expertise of a child custody lawyer. If parents cannot agree on custody arrangements for their children, it can lead to disputes, confusion, and stress for all parties involved. Find yourself in a situation where you’re uncertain about your child’s custody rights or facing difficulties reaching an agreement with your co-parent. It may be time to consider hiring a child custody lawyer.

Research has shown that in 90% of custody cases, parents can work together to settle custody disputes without involving a judge. But if you are in the remaining 10% of the remaining cases, speaking with an experienced child custody lawyer could be beneficial. In this article, we will explore eight common signs that indicate you may need legal assistance to navigate the child custody process.

#1. Disagreements with Your Co-Parent Persist

One of the most common signs that it’s time to consult with a child custody lawyer is when disagreements with your co-parent persist. While it’s normal for parents to have occasional differences of opinion regarding child-rearing decisions, legal intervention may be necessary if these disagreements escalate to the point where they impact your child’s well-being or the ability to make important decisions. A child custody lawyer can help mediate these disputes and advocate for your rights.

#2. Your Co-Parent is Uncooperative

It can create a significant roadblock if your co-parent needs to be more cooperative and responsive when discussing custody arrangements, visitation schedules, or making important decisions about your child’s upbringing. A child custody lawyer can help ensure that your co-parent fulfills their legal obligations and works towards a resolution in the child’s best interests.

#3. Concerns About Your Child’s Safety

If you have serious concerns about your child’s safety with the other parent, it’s crucial to address these concerns promptly. Whether it involves issues like substance abuse, neglect, or domestic violence, a child custody lawyer can assist you in taking the necessary steps to protect your child and advocate for their safety.

#4. You’re Facing Relocation

Relocation can complicate child custody arrangements significantly. If you or your co-parent are planning to move to a different city or state, it can impact visitation schedules, transportation, and overall parenting arrangements. A child custody lawyer can help you navigate the legal requirements and negotiate a modified custody agreement that suits the new circumstances.

#5. You’re Unfamiliar with Legal Procedures

Child custody proceedings involve a complex set of legal rules and procedures that may be unfamiliar to you. If you’re unsure how to file the necessary documents, attend court hearings, or present your case effectively, hiring a child custody lawyer can ensure that you follow the correct legal processes and represent your interests competently.

#6. Modification of Existing Orders is Necessary

Child custody arrangements are not always set in stone. Life circumstances change, and what worked in the past may no longer suit you, your child, or your co-parent. If you need to modify an existing custody order due to changes in employment, health, or other significant factors, a child custody lawyer can guide you through the modification process.

#7. Threats of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to manipulate or poison the child’s relationship with the other parent. This destructive behavior can have long-lasting emotional and psychological effects on the child. If you suspect that your co-parent is engaging in parental alienation, it’s essential to consult with a child custody lawyer who can help protect your rights and your child’s well-being.

#8. You Want to Ensure Your Child’s Best Interests

Ultimately, the most crucial consideration in any child custody case is the child’s best interests. If you’re committed to providing a stable and loving environment for your child and believe that your co-parent’s actions or decisions may not align with this goal, a child custody lawyer can help you build a strong case demonstrating your commitment to your child’s welfare.

Azemika & Azemika Can Help Find a Solution to Your Child Custody Concerns

Navigating a child custody dispute can be a challenging and emotionally charged experience. If any of the signs mentioned above apply to your situation, it’s wise to seek the counsel of a child custody lawyer. Their expertise can help you protect your rights as a parent, advocate for your child’s well-being, and work towards a fair and suitable custody arrangement.

The family law lawyers at Azemika & Azemika know that the goal in any child custody case should be to provide a stable and loving environment for your child. We aim to help you achieve that goal while navigating the complexities of the legal system. We will ensure that not only is your child’s best interest protected, but your rights as a parent are protected as well.

Contact us today for a consultation.

What to Look for in a Child Custody Lawyer

child custody

When it comes to child custody battles, the stakes are high, and making the right decisions is paramount to protect the well-being of your children. Hiring an experienced and skilled child custody lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

However, choosing the right lawyer requires careful consideration. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the essential traits and qualities to look for in a child custody lawyer. We will also provide valuable tips to help you navigate the selection process effectively, ensuring you find your children’s ideal advocate.

Traits of a Qualified Child Custody Lawyer

Finding the right child custody lawyer makes all the difference. Here are some qualities you should look for when hiring a child custody lawyer.

Experience and Expertise

One of the most critical factors to consider when hiring a child custody lawyer is their experience and expertise in family law, particularly in child custody cases. Look for a lawyer who has a significant amount of experience, specifically in child custody matters.

Familiarity with the intricacies of custody laws and courtroom procedures will allow them to navigate your case confidently and competently. An experienced lawyer will understand the unique challenges that can arise during custody battles and be well-prepared to handle them effectively.

Strong Communication Skills

Effective communication is vital in child custody cases. Your lawyer should possess strong communication skills to articulate your concerns, needs, and desired outcomes clearly.

They should also be an active listener, empathetic to your situation, and able to address any questions or concerns you may have. A lawyer with excellent communication skills will also be adept at negotiating with the opposing party, ensuring that your interests are well-represented and promoting a constructive resolution.

Knowledge of Child Development and Psychology

Child custody decisions must prioritize the best interests of the children involved. Look for a lawyer who demonstrates an understanding of child development and psychology.

This knowledge will allow them to assess your children’s specific needs and preferences and make informed recommendations regarding custody arrangements. A lawyer who appreciates the emotional impact of custody battles on children can better advocate for their well-being and support creating a nurturing environment.

Strong Negotiation and Mediation Skills

Child custody disputes often benefit from negotiation and mediation, which can lead to more amicable resolutions. A lawyer with strong negotiation and mediation skills can work with the other parent and their attorney to find mutually agreeable solutions.

Look for a lawyer who can navigate difficult conversations and effectively advocate for your interests while maintaining a cooperative and constructive approach. A lawyer skilled in negotiation and mediation can help reduce conflict, save time and costs, and promote a healthier co-parenting relationship.

Availability and Responsiveness

Child custody cases require ongoing communication and collaboration between you and your lawyer. It is crucial to hire an attorney who is accessible and responsive.

Prompt responses to your inquiries and concerns are essential for building trust and ensuring that you are consistently informed about the progress of your case. A lawyer who values open and frequent communication will support you throughout the process and provide the reassurance you need during this challenging time.

Compatibility and Trust

Trust and compatibility with your child custody lawyer are crucial. You will share personal information and rely on their expertise to guide you through the legal process.

Take the time to meet with potential lawyers for an initial consultation to assess how comfortable you feel working with them. Trust your instincts, choose a lawyer with whom you have a good rapport, and feel confident entrusting your case. A strong lawyer-client relationship built on trust and compatibility will contribute to a more effective and successful representation.

Client Testimonials and References

Before making a final decision, consider reviewing client testimonials and seeking references from the lawyer’s previous clients. Reading about others’ experiences can provide insights into the lawyer’s professionalism, communication style, and success rate in handling child custody cases. Personal references allow you to have direct conversations with former clients, helping you gauge the lawyer’s effectiveness and suitability for your specific needs.

Tips for Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer

Now that you know what qualities you should look for in a child custody lawyer, here are some tips to allow you to make the best choice for your child.

  • Start your search early to allow sufficient time for research and consultations.
  • Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, or other professionals in the legal field.
  • Conduct thorough background research on potential lawyers, including reviewing their credentials, experience, and track record.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask during initial consultations to assess their suitability and compatibility.
  • Request a clear breakdown of fees and billing structure before committing to a lawyer’s services.
  • Trust your instincts and choose a lawyer who prioritizes your children’s best interests and demonstrates a genuine commitment to your case.

Let Azemika & Azemika Help You Navigate Child Custody Issues in California

Hiring the right child custody lawyer is crucial in protecting your children’s best interests during a custody battle. By considering the essential traits and qualities discussed in this comprehensive guide, you can make an informed decision and find the ideal advocate who will navigate the complex legal landscape and work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for your children.

If you’re looking for a qualified, experienced family law attorney for your child custody case, look no further than Azemika & Azemika. Our partners have exclusively handled family law cases in Kern County for over three decades. Our vast experience in family law cases allows us to customize each case to our client’s needs.

Contact us today for a consultation.

The Importance of Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer

child custody lawyer

Divorce is difficult, but it can be more difficult when you involve children. Dealing with child custody battles can be emotionally challenging. When parents split or divorce, one of the most critical decisions to make is determining the best interests of their children. The expertise of a child custody lawyer becomes invaluable.

Navigating child custody can be challenging when you’re at your best, but experiencing the stress and emotions that come from a divorce can be even more difficult. In this article, we will discuss why hiring a child custody lawyer is essential and explore the numerous benefits they bring to ensure a fair and favorable outcome for your children.

In-depth Understanding of Child Custody Laws

Child custody laws can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. An experienced child custody lawyer understands the legal framework and can provide valuable guidance through the complex legal process. They stay updated with the latest laws and regulations, protecting parental rights.

Mistakes in custody agreements or legal filings can have long-term emotional and financial consequences. By entrusting your case to a lawyer, you can minimize the risk of making errors that could jeopardize the outcome of your child custody proceedings.

Knowledge of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Child custody lawyers are knowledgeable about alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or collaborative law. These approaches offer less adversarial options for resolving custody disputes, focusing on open communication and cooperation rather than contentious litigation.

A lawyer can guide you through these alternative processes, exploring the potential for reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement without going to court. By opting for alternative dispute resolution, you can preserve your relationship with the other parent and reduce the stress and animosity often associated with traditional courtroom battles.

Objective Advice and Emotional Support

Child custody battles can be emotionally draining, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the stress and anxiety of the situation. A child custody lawyer provides legal guidance, objective advice, and emotional support throughout the process.

They understand the complexities and challenges involved and can help you make informed decisions while keeping your emotions in check. A professional offering reassurance and guidance can alleviate some of the emotional burden, allowing you to focus on your children’s well-being.

Protection of Parental Rights

When it comes to child custody battles, protecting parental rights is crucial. A child custody lawyer will advocate for your rights as a parent, ensuring your voice is heard and your interests are represented effectively in court. They will work diligently to establish and present evidence supporting your ability to provide your children with a stable and nurturing environment.

Expertise in Custody Arrangements

Child custody lawyers possess the expertise to craft comprehensive custody arrangements that address the unique needs of your children. They will help you explore different types of child custody, such as joint custody, sole custody, or visitation rights, taking into account factors such as the child’s age, preferences, and the ability of each parent to meet their needs. A skilled lawyer will guide you through the decision-making process and draft a custody agreement that ensures your children’s well-being and best interests.

Child custody arrangements may need to be modified over time due to changing circumstances or parental non-compliance. A child custody lawyer can assist you in navigating the process of modifying existing custody orders, ensuring that any necessary changes are made legally and effectively.

Moreover, suppose the other parent fails to comply with the agreed-upon custody arrangement. In that case, a lawyer can help you enforce the order, protecting your rights as a parent and the best interests of your children.

Resolving Complex Issues

Child custody disputes can involve various complex issues, such as relocation, parental alienation, or domestic violence. A child custody lawyer has the knowledge and experience to handle these sensitive matters carefully.

They will gather evidence, interview witnesses if necessary, and present a compelling case on your behalf. By tackling these complex issues effectively, a lawyer can help protect your children from harm and secure a safe and stable environment for their growth and development.

Efficient and Timely Process

Child custody disputes can be time-consuming, with extensive paperwork, court appearances, and negotiations. A child custody lawyer streamlines the process, ensuring all necessary documents are prepared accurately and submitted on time.

They have experience working within legal deadlines and can prevent delays or potential setbacks. By efficiently handling the legal aspects of your case, a lawyer helps expedite the process, minimizing the time you and your children spend in an uncertain situation.

Expert Child Custody Representation by Azemika & Azemika Bakersfield Divorce Attorneys

Hiring a child custody lawyer is essential when it comes to ensuring the best interests of your children during a separation or divorce. Child custody lawyers play a crucial role in securing a favorable outcome that promotes the well-being and happiness of your children. When it comes to your children’s future, investing in a child custody lawyer is a decision that can make a world of difference.

The partners at Azemika & Azemika have specialized in family law for over three decades. We provide clients with aggressive, knowledgeable, affordable representation. Since our practice focuses only on family law cases, we know how difficult and emotional it can be, so our staff and lawyers are sensitive to our client’s needs. Our dedication has shown itself as we have been named the Best of Bakersfield for Divorce/Family Law attorney by the Bakersfield Californian for two years running.

Are you ready to work with our award-winning team? Contact us today!

Child Custody and Unmarried Parents in California: What You Need to Know

unmarried parents

Child custody matters can be complex and emotionally challenging, especially for unmarried parents in California. In such cases, understanding the state’s child custody laws and the different types of custody agreements available is crucial for ensuring the well-being and best interests of the child.

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of California’s child custody laws and shed light on the various custody agreements unmarried parents can explore to establish a stable and nurturing environment for their child.

Child Custody Laws in California

California prioritizes the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. Regardless of the parents’ marital status, the court’s primary focus is to promote a stable and nurturing environment for the child’s growth and development. It is essential to note that California does not favor one parent over the other based on gender.

Types of Custody Agreements

Here is a breakdown of a judge’s custody options when determining child custody cases.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the parent’s right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s well-being, including education, religion, healthcare, and other significant life choices. In most cases, California courts encourage joint legal custody, where both parents share decision-making authority. However, if it is determined that joint legal custody is not in the child’s best interests, the court may grant sole legal custody to one parent.

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines with which parent the child will reside and spend their time. Similar to legal custody, physical custody can be joint or sole. Joint physical custody allows the child to spend substantial time with both parents, promoting frequent and continuous contact. In sole physical custody cases, the child primarily resides with one parent, while the other parent typically receives visitation rights or parenting time.

Sole Custody

Sole custody grants one parent exclusive rights and responsibilities over the child’s upbringing. This includes both legal and physical custody. However, it is essential to note that California courts generally favor joint custody arrangements, as they believe it is beneficial for the child to maintain healthy relationships with both parents.

Joint Custody

Joint custody ensures parents have equal rights and responsibilities in raising their child. It can be a joint legal custody arrangement, where both parents share decision-making authority, or joint physical custody, allowing the child to spend significant time with both parents. In some cases, joint legal and physical custody can be awarded, providing a balanced and stable upbringing for the child.

Visitation Rights

In situations where one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent typically receives visitation rights. The visitation schedule outlines the specific times and dates the noncustodial parent can spend with the child. California courts encourage frequent and meaningful visitation unless it is detrimental to the child’s well-being.

Custody and Visitation Agreements

Unmarried parents can work together to create a mutually agreed-upon custody and visitation plan. These agreements can be formalized through a court-approved parenting plan or a stipulated judgment. It is advisable to consult with an attorney to ensure the agreement meets legal requirements and protects the child’s best interests.

Unmarried Parents’ Rights in California

Unmarried Mother’s Rights

In California, when a child is born to an unmarried mother, she is automatically granted full custody. She has both legal and physical custody of the child, meaning she’s responsible for making all decisions about the child’s care and can determine when and if the child can see the father. Although she is initially granted full custody, if the mother is deemed as an unfit parent, she risks losing full custody.

Unmarried Father’s Rights

When parents are married a have a child, it is assumed that the husband is the child’s father. Unmarried fathers without established legal paternity for their child have no custody or visitation rights. Even if the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate, they must establish legal paternity to get parental rights for custody and visitation.

After paternity is established, the father will have the right to have a say in major decisions in the child’s life. He may also be required to pay child support, request visitation, and other related arrangements.

Let Azemika & Azemika Help You Protect Your Parental Rights

Navigating child custody matters as an unmarried parent in California can be challenging. However, understanding the state’s child custody laws and the various types of custody agreements available can help ease the process. Remember that California courts prioritize the child’s best interests, aiming to promote stable and nurturing environments for their growth and development.

Seeking legal advice and considering the child’s well-being throughout the process is essential. By working together and focusing on the child’s needs, unmarried parents can establish custody arrangements that foster healthy relationships and provide a stable foundation for their child’s future.

At Azemika & Azemika, our partners can help you understand the laws and procedures when navigating child custody in California. Our law firm is devoted exclusively to family law. Our goal for each client is to provide knowledgeable, aggressive, affordable representation to achieve their desired goal.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody in California: What You Need to Know

domestic violence

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue affecting millions of families worldwide. In the United States, California is known to have some of the strictest laws regarding domestic violence, particularly in matters related to child custody.

Domestic violence can significantly impact child custody decisions, and it’s vital for parents involved in these cases to understand how the law works. This article will explore how domestic violence may affect child custody in California.

Defining Domestic Violence in California

Before we dive into how domestic violence can impact child custody cases in California, it is essential to understand what constitutes domestic violence under the state’s laws. California defines domestic violence as abuse or threats of abuse between people with close relationships.

The abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and psychological. Domestic violence can occur between spouses or domestic partners, parents and children, and other family members.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody in California

When it comes to child custody, California courts must consider the best interests of the child. The courts must protect the child’s health, safety, and welfare. Domestic violence can significantly impact a child’s well-being, which can be critical in determining child custody arrangements.

California courts recognize that domestic violence can have long-lasting effects on children. For example, witnessing violence in the home can lead to anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues. In addition, children who are exposed to domestic violence are also at higher risk of experiencing abuse themselves. 

As such, the courts take allegations of domestic violence very seriously and are willing to take strong action to protect children. They will not only take into consideration abuse to the child themselves but also any abuse against:

  • Another child in their care
  • The child’s other parent
  • The abuser’s current spouse, roommate, dating partner
  • Any other family member of the abuser

Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody Decisions

In California, there is a presumption that it is not in the best interests of the child to be placed in the custody of a parent with a history of domestic violence. This means that if one parent has been found to have committed domestic violence, the court will presume that it is not in the child’s best interests to be in that parent’s custody.

However, the accused can rebut this presumption by showing that placing the child in their custody is, in fact, in the child’s best interests. In addition, the parent must provide evidence that they have completed a batterer’s intervention program, counseling, or therapy and are not a danger to the child.

It is also worth noting that the court may order supervised visitation if a parent has a history of domestic violence. The parent can still see the child, but a court-appointed monitor must supervise the visits. The monitor’s role is to ensure the child’s safety and well-being during the visit.

In cases with allegations of domestic violence but no finding of fault, the court will consider various factors to determine child custody arrangements. These factors may include the relationship between the child and each parent, each parent’s ability to fulfill the child’s needs, and any other relevant factors.

Protective Orders and Child Custody

In many cases, a victim of domestic violence may obtain a protective order to protect themselves and their children from further harm. A protective order is a court order that requires the abuser to stay away from the victim and their children. In California, a protective order can also address child custody and visitation.

If a protective order is in place, the court may order that the abuser have no contact with the victim or the children or that the abuser’s contact with the children is supervised. The court may also order that the abuser stay away from the children’s school or other places where the children are likely to be found.

Azemika & Azemika, Family Law Attorneys in Bakersfield, California

If you are a victim of domestic violence or have been accused of committing domestic violence, it’s crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. It’s also essential as a parent to prioritize the well-being of your children above all else.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, take the necessary steps to obtain a protective order, and seek counseling or therapy for you and your children. There are resources available for victims of domestic violence, including shelters, counseling services, and legal assistance. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, seek help immediately.

At Azemika & Azemika, the needs of the children in a divorce or separation become our utmost priority. Our expert team of family law attorneys can help you understand the laws and procedures when navigating child custody issues in California.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Types of Child Custody in California Explained: How Do They Differ?

types of child custody

Some of the most complicated cases in family court are child custody battles. Custody can be an issue that is resolved during marriage proceedings, or it can be something that needs to be resolved between parents that aren’t legally married.

You and the other parent can reach a mutual agreement on custody arrangements. However, if you cannot agree on the issue, the court will step in to decide the issue for you.

If you are trying to work out custody with your child’s other parent or are currently involved in a custody battle, it’s essential to know your options. This article will discuss the types of child custody in California.

Types of Child Custody

When deciding child custody, courts consider what’s in the child’s best interest. In California, the judge will decide between four custody options. Here is a breakdown of each.

Legal Custody

Legal custody determines which parent (or both) will have the right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s health, what school they attend, where they will live, and what religion they will practice. The two types of legal custody are:

  • Sole Legal Custody means that one parent has the exclusive right to make these decisions for the child. (CA Fam. Code § 3006)
  • Joint Legal Custody means that both parents will be responsible for making these decisions. (CA Fam. Code § 3003)

Most of the time, the court prefers to grant joint legal custody to allow both parents to be part of the child’s life and to allow equal input from each parent on important decisions in the child’s life.

You must remember that even if you are granted joint legal custody, if there are issues that come up that both parents can’t agree on, you’ll have to go back to court, and a judge will decide what is in the child’s best interest.

The courts may choose not to grant joint legal custody in some cases. This may happen if one of the parties has a history of severe mental health issues, has been incarcerated, has a history of domestic violence, or if the judge feels that one of the parents shouldn’t be responsible for making decisions for the child.

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines with which parent the child will reside. The two types of physical custody are:

  • Primary physical custody means that the child will live with one parent, and the other parent will likely have visitation rights. (CA Fam. Code § 3007)
    • If you have been granted visitation rights under a custody order, there are different types of visitation as well.
      • Scheduled visitation sets exact dates and times when you can spend time with your child.
      • Reasonable visitation allows both parents to be flexible on the dates and times of visitation.
      • Supervised visitation occurs when the child’s safety and well-being are in question. During supervised visitation, the visit will be supervised by the other parent, a professional agency, or another trustworthy adult.
  • Joint physical custody means that the child will live with both parents. The goal of this arrangement is to allow the child to have continuous and frequent contact with both parents. While the child will live with both parents, the time with each may not be equally divided due to obligations such as school or work. (CA Fam. Code § 3004)

Sole Custody

Sole custody gives both legal and physical custody to one parent. That means that the child would live with one parent, and that parent would be exclusively responsible for making all important decisions in the child’s life.

Joint Custody

When joint custody is granted, both parents have physical and legal custody of the child, and both have an equal right to make all important decisions in the child’s life. The child may also live with both parents, although the time may not be split equally due to other obligations such as work and school. (CA Fam. Code § 3002)

While “joint custody” emphasizes equal decision-making authority and legal responsibility, “shared custody” tends to underscore the practical aspect of the child’s living arrangements.

Let Azemika Law Answer Your Child Custody Questions

If you’re going through a divorce involving children and you have questions related to child custody, enlisting the assistance of an experienced family law attorney is essential. Your attorney can answer any questions and help ensure that you are doing everything in your power to protect your parental rights.

At Azemika Law, our law firm’s practice is devoted exclusively to family law. Our partners have a combined total of over 56 years of experience in family law. Our goal for every client is to provide knowledgeable, aggressive, affordable representation to achieve their goals in a timely fashion.
Contact us today for a consultation.

What Does California Consider An Unfit Parent?

unfit parent

When it comes to divorce, it is typically caused by irreconcilable differences between a couple. Unfortunately, this may form distrust for their new ex-spouse, and both might attack one another’s ability to effectively care for their children. When this happens, the court will become involved, and a professional evaluation will be conducted to determine joint or sole custody between the parents. The court’s duty is to always rule with the best interest of a child, and have criteria for what makes a parent fit for raising their children.

What Is An Unfit Parent?

Saying that someone is an “unfit parent” over not meeting specific standards for raising children has been casually used by people in conversation, but in divorce law, an unfit parent actually is a legal term used when determining custody. By parent request, or ordered by the court, a child custody evaluator can be used to examine both parties, their homes, and their relationship with their children. Additionally, a child custody evaluator may interview the children’s therapists, other caregivers, teachers, and any other adults in the child’s life. There are a few factors that are under review when determining a parent’s fitness:

  • Any history of physical abuse, substance abuse, domestic abuse, or incarcerations: While it is rare for California judges to completely cut parents off from contacting their children, if there is enough significant evidence and proof given, and not just claims from the other parent, these circumstances can deny custody or visitation rights for either party.
  • The parent’s ability to make appropriate decisions for a child: The court requires a parent to make responsible, and age-appropriate, limitations for their child.
  • How does the parent understand and respond to their child’s needs?: A parent needs a functional relationship with their child, and how the parent responds to what their child needs and any changes in behavior.
  • Involvement of the parent in the past: A parent’s history with their child is especially important; if the parent has been absent, or heavily relied on others for the care of their child, this can hinder the determination of custody.
  • How conflict is handled between both parents regarding custody: A past with uncooperative behavior will likely be counted against each party, and if they are unable to handle conflict appropriately going forward.
  • The child’s opinion: In some cases, children that are over the age of 12 and able to articulate their wishes will be heard, and their opinions considered.
  • Work schedules and time spent with the child: Parents who work out of the area, or who have extensive or odd hours might make them unable to provide proper supervision for their child. The court may want to see a parent relocate, or change jobs, to see willingness in providing a stable home life.
  • Mental illness: Mental illness does not always affect custody decisions if it doesn’t threaten the welfare of the child, especially if the parent is seeking treatment.

A child custody evaluator can not give any preference to either parent’s gender. Race, sexual orientation, religion, or one’s financial status does not hold any weight when determining parental fitness.

If a parent is found unfit, the evaluator may suggest visitation schedules for said parent. These visitations can be supervised, limited, or denied based on different circumstances. When neither parent is found to be a threat to their child, and joint custody is possible, the parents will be able to work with the evaluator to limit conflicts, and make parenting plans to move forward.

Seeking Experienced Attorney Help

It’s important to consider that while it may be easy to focus on what makes the other parent “unfit”, ultimately decisions made should truly be in the best interest of the child. Legal guidance can provide more stability, ensure rational resolutions, and help move through conflict. Also keep in mind that your children are affected by your behavior, and reducing arguments between you and your ex can provide more benefit during this turbulent time when creating this new chapter for your family.

If you have any concerns about being able to prove your fitness as a parent, having a reliable attorney is an indispensable asset, as your attorney will help you gather evidence to support your position and prove that you can be a fit parent for your children. When your child’s well-being is at stake, it’s essential to seek out an experienced family law attorney who can make sure you are advocated for. 

At Azemika Law, we’re here for you. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County for 28 years, we at Azemika Law give attentive support, with the best interest for your child. Contact us today to help create effective resolutions and build a clear, better future for both you and your children.