Divorcing with children is never easy, as custody concerns can be particularly trying. California law emphasizes the best interest of the child, which has traditionally meant sharing time with both parents whenever possible. However, in certain situations, it may be better for just one parent to have full custody. If you’re considering having your child or children stay with you exclusively, there are some points to take into account.
“Be aware, too, that there are two different types of custody,” notes Leucadia divorce attorney, John Griffith. “Physical custody refers to where the child actually resides, and legal custody is related to decision-making when it comes to education, healthcare, and the like.”
Whether you or your spouse are seeking full custody, it’s important to understand how such cases are typically handled in California.
Reasons Why Full Custody May Be Granted
In certain circumstances, California courts may award sole custody to one parent. These cases are the most common:
- Domestic violence: If there is any substantiated claim of domestic violence, California courts will rarely award the accused parent custody of a child. While there are rare exceptions, full custody is not possible for a parent with a recent history of domestic abuse toward either the child or the other parent. California Family Code 3044 explains this situation in greater detail.
- False allegations of abuse: If one spouse falsely accuses the other of abuse, this could be a case in which the accuser will not likely get full custody of the child.
- Documented, continued drug or alcohol abuse: California Family Code 3041.5 stipulates that there has to be evidence of repeated and documented abuse of drugs or alcohol. There are also guidelines established for drug testing in child custody cases.
- Child abduction or the threat of it: If there is any potential abduction, that’s a matter California courts don’t take lightly. It would be extremely difficult for a parent convicted of child abduction to then obtain full custody over that child.
Other Tips for Gaining Full Custody
- Be timely with all documentation. Particularly if your custody case involves allegations of child abuse or substance problems, you should file all required paperwork immediately.
- Be completely honest. Any information provided should be done in good faith; if there are inconsistencies or falsities given, the custody process will likely be delayed.
- Consult with an expert family law attorney. The advice above is only preliminary; your individual case should be taken to a lawyer well-versed in California family law.
If you’re concerned about getting child custody in your divorce case, please call 858-371-5569. If you’d prefer, you can also email to schedule a free consultation. At Griffith, Young, and Lass, our experienced, professional team will help you achieve the best outcome possible in your case.
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