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Legal Custody: Oakland Custody Lawyer Janice Cho Explains

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Part One in our series on Navigating Custody Battles in California

When faced with a divorce or separation, it's essential to have a clear understanding of legal custody and physical custody and their implications for both the parents and children involved. Part one of this article aims to shed light on exactly what legal custody is and the importance of hiring an experienced Oakland custody lawyer.

What is Legal Custody?

Having legal custody of a child in California involves being entrusted with the authority and responsibility to make important decisions about the child's upbringing and well-being. This encompasses crucial areas like education, healthcare, religious practices, extracurricular activities, and ensuring the overall welfare and safety of the child.

Legal custody doesn't dictate the child's physical residence. Even if one parent holds sole legal custody, the other parent (referred to as the non-custodial parent) may still have visitation rights. We’ll discuss physical custody in part two of this article.

Sole Legal Custody in California

Sole legal custody grants one parent exclusive authority to make significant decisions regarding a child's upbringing, encompassing education, healthcare, religious practices, and general well-being. Understanding sole legal custody is crucial as it delineates the extent of a parent's decision-making power. It’s important to understand the legal implications when navigating divorce or separation proceedings, ensuring that parents are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Sole legal custody may be granted by the court in specific situations deemed best for the child. This includes cases of documented abuse, substance abuse risk, severe mental health concerns, or a parent's extended absence due to incarceration or institutionalization. Additionally, sole legal custody may be considered if a parent consistently undermines the child's relationship with the other parent. Geographic constraints or a parent's uncooperative behavior can also lead to the award of sole legal custody. In all cases, the court's main concern is the child's best interests, ensuring their safety, well-being, and development are prioritized.

Joint Legal Custody in California

In cases of joint legal custody, both parents share the duty of making significant decisions for the child. This means that choices regarding the child's education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and other vital matters are made collectively. This arrangement emphasizes the importance of effective communication and collaboration between parents for the child's welfare.

California courts highly discourage conflicts in parenting. They place a significant emphasis on ensuring that the child's best interests remain of utmost importance. In cases of custody disputes, the court will carefully evaluate the circumstances to determine whether sole legal custody or joint legal custody is most appropriate. This decision is based on what the court deems to be in the best interest of the child.

Joint legal custody is often considered beneficial for the child as it guarantees that both parents have a voice in important aspects of the child's life. This arrangement helps maintain a sense of balance and continuity in the child's upbringing, with both parents actively involved in decision-making. It fosters a sense of shared responsibility, contributing positively to the child's overall well-being and development.

Understanding legal custody is crucial when navigating divorce or separation proceedings in California. Given the profound implications for both parents and the child, seeking guidance from a family law attorney is highly recommended. An experienced Oakland custody lawyer can guide you through the complexities of the legal process, ensuring that your child's welfare remains a priority in accordance with the court's determination of their best interests.

How Oakland Custody Lawyer Janice Cho Can Help

The Law Offices of Janice Cho is a client-oriented law firm specializing in helping individuals understand and resolve family law matters efficiently and effectively. The family law practice provides full representation, mediation, consulting services and brief services. Whether negotiating a settlement or conducting litigation, I am here for you.

I have extensive trial experience and will guide you through the process. Should your case be one that cannot be settled, I will vigorously represent you in the litigation process, while doing my best to make the process tolerable for you and to keep costs under control. I will make sure that I understand your concerns and goals and will answer questions about the substantive issues, the process, the possible outcomes and the consequences so that you can make informed decisions.

Call (510) 925-2651 when you need the assistance of an experienced Oakland custody lawyer.

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