Child custody: Which parent will have decision-making authority?

Virtually all parents in California and beyond want what is best for their children. In matters of divorce, however, this if often a hotly debated issue. One parent might think it is best for children to attend private school while the other wants to try home schooling. When a judge issues a legal child custody ruling, he or she is granting one or both parents decision-making authority.

This is known as legal custody. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where children live after divorce. Regarding their health, education, faith and other important life issues, a judge overseeing a particular case may decide it is in the children's best interests for parents to share the responsibility of making decisions on their behalf.

If a parent has a substance abuse problem or has otherwise been deemed unfit, the court may grant sole legal custody to the other parent. This means he or she would not have to consult his or her co-parent when making life decisions regarding the children. In most cases, the court believes it is best if parents can work together in a shared physical and legal custody arrangement.

If a child custody problem arises, which is not uncommon, a concerned California parent may seek guidance and support from a family law attorney who is well-versed in applicable laws regarding such issues. An attorney's job is to protect a client's rights and interests. If a parent believes a co-parent is impeding his or her parent/child relationship/s, he or she can ask an attorney to bring it to the court's immediate attention.

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