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Legal custody and how it could impact your parental rights

Child custody can be a complex issue, as both parents want to retain a strong relationship with their children after a divorce is final. Generally, family courts recognize the importance of allowing a child to maintain a strong relationship with both parents. For this reason, joint custody or shared custody is now quite common.

As a California parent, you know the most important factor is ensuring the terms of your custody and visitation order protect the best interests of your child. You also likely have concerns over your parental rights, along with how you will maintain a strong role in the life of your child. One of the issues you may need to understand is legal custody and how it could impact you.

What are your rights as a parent?

As a biological parent, you have the right to maintain an active and strong role in the life of your child. However, that does not necessarily mean that you have the right to make important decisions for your child. Legal custody refers to the right of one or both parents to make these choices. In some cases, both parents can share physical custody while one parent retains legal custody.

Legal custody is the right to make choices on behalf of a child related to any of the following issues:

  • Education
  • Religious upbringing
  • Medical care and health needs
  • Extracurricular activities

In many cases, joint custody arrangements have the parents sharing both physical and legal custody. However, that may not work in your individual situation. The court will consider whether both parents are fit to make these kinds of decisions and what option is best for the children.

As you pursue a custody order that will work best for you and your children for years into the future, you would be wise to consider legal custody as well. You have the right to fight to share this specific responsibility regarding your kids.

The best future for your kids

Any child custody arrangement should meet the individual needs of the specific family. Your family is unique, and you have the right pursue an order that suits you and your kids.

As you work for a positive post-divorce future and pursue a workable custody arrangement, you may find it beneficial to first seek a complete evaluation of your case. This initial step can help you better understand your options and know how you can protect your right to share legal custody of your kids.

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