Who gets the children? This is often the number one question asked in divorce cases where custody is an issue in the case. Parents do not want to be placed on a schedule when it comes to spending time with their children. This is sometimes a very difficult thing for a parent to abide by, especially if the parent is prominent in the child's life. Child custody deals with this exact situation. In many court proceedings where custody is contested, the judge will ultimately have to make the decision of where the child will be placed and with whom. Although in some cases, custody does not have to be an either-or proposition because joint custody is also a viable option.
In California, people that are going through custody and visitation are encouraged to initiate their own parenting plans. A parenting plan is a plan that defines for the court who will be making certain decisions for the children and where the children will be spending their time. Health, education and the overall welfare of the child are important aspects of the child's life where the roles of the parents need to be clear especially where the parents are no longer parenting under the same roof.
The other big ticket item surrounding child custody is the custody part and visitation rights. The children may end up spending a majority of their time with one parent over another. Depending on the ages of the children as well as the needs of the children, one parent may be more appropriate as the primary caregiver. This of course is subject to change as the needs of the child change.
In custody, there is a difference between legal custody and physical custody, sole custody and joint custody. The parties to a case have the ability to make these decisions without court intervention. Ultimately however, the court will have to sign off on the custody order.