At The Law Office of Ruth Lynn Estep in Santa Monica, we help our clients work out physical and legal child custody arrangements that allow the clients to maintain the strongest possible relationships with their children. California child custody law says that child custody and visitation determinations are to be made from the standpoint of the child’s best interest.

Physical custody, legal custody — what do they involve?

The court is required to see that both parents have the opportunity to maintain a strong relationship with a child unless one parent is unfit. Child support cannot be withheld even if visitation is not granted, and vice-versa. A number of different physical and legal custody arrangements are possible:

  1. Joint legal custody: California law favors an arrangement where parents share legal custody of a child. Joint legal custody means that both parents cooperate in major parenting decisions, those that involve, for example, religion, major medical care, and education.
  2. Sole legal custody: Our attorneys have seen cases where the court granted one parent sole decision-making authority in a custody decree, most often when the non-custodial parent is absent or unfit.
  3. Joint physical custody: Joint physical custody describes a wide range of arrangements for residence and visitation and rarely means that a child spends exactly 50% of his or her time with each parent. Our lawyers will be happy to discuss benefits and options afforded by creative custody agreements.
  4. Sole physical custody: If your ex is a danger to your child or in some other way unfit to have visitation privileges, our lawyers will petition for full physical custody with limited visitation.

If you would like to discuss your options under California family law, please contact our office to make arrangements for a free consultation. You will speak with an experienced custody lawyer, not a paralegal or assistant.