Difference Between Joint Custody and Shared Custody in California

Understanding custody in California Child custody cases can be complex. It is common for parents to become confused or use the words joint custody and shared custody interchangeably. Always seek the legal advice of discerning Los Angeles child custody attorneys to understand and ensure your custody rights as a parent.

Determining Custody in California

California divides custody into two categories. These categories of custody can be held solely by one parent or jointly by both.

Legal Custody

A parent’s right to make significant decisions that impact a child’s welfare, including healthcare, religious upbringing, education, and where a child will reside, is considered legal custody. Most parents in Los Angeles will share in this custody, allowing for parents to possess joint legal custody, making these vital decisions together without the intervention of a court.

One parent legally allowed to make these decisions without the other parent’s input or participating in a joint decision-making process possesses sole legal custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody addresses where a child will live. It is also possible for parents to share in joint physical custody. While joint physical custody can be established, it does not necessarily mean that the time a child spends with each parent is the same, but the time will be divided as equally as possible depending on school schedules and other activities.

A parent may possess sole physical custody, allowing them to have primary custody of the child most often, with visitation being court-ordered to the other parent.

California Court-Ordered Visitation and Time-Share

The term shared custody is not used by law in defining the types of custody in California. When both parents have equal responsibility for a child, it is referred to as joint legal or joint physical custody. Then, orders will define how parents will share the time spent with a child.

Time share-share orders are often put in place detailing how the time will be shared to illuminate confusion or conflict over the sharing of time in a child’s life. Some of the times that may be addressed in time-share orders can include:

  • Vacation time
  • School breaks
  • Birthdays
  • Holidays
  • Any occasion that is special to a family

Parents possessing the ability to work together may not have such definitive dates, allowing for flexibility in the time shared with each parent. Visitation is awarded to parents who possess physical custody of a child less than half the time.

Establishing Joint Custody and Time-Share Plans in Los Angeles

It is always imperative to work with detail-oriented Los Angeles family law attorneys to establish the terms of joint custody and how time will be shared between parents effectively. Each family faces unique circumstances contributing to how time will be shared between each parent. It is ultimately the best scenario for every family member involved when parents can work together, maintaining flexibility for unforeseen circumstances and special events that may occur.

Experience Matters in Los Angeles Custody Cases

Even parents with joint custody can struggle with sharing time with a child and establishing parenting time. When you work with a creative legal team willing to explore alternatives and new ideas, problems relating to shared time can easily be overcome, bringing a balance back into each parent’s time spent with a child. Contact Martin Family Law Group to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can protect your rights in Los Angeles to joint custody and ensure quality time shared with your child.