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Physical Custody


Physical custody refers to the living arrangement of the children and is governed by California Family Code section 3004. Unlike legal custody, it is not uncommon for there to be an unequal division of physical custody.  Thus, if the children spend the majority of their time with one of the parents, that parent will be deemed to have primary physical custody, and the other parent will have visitation rights.  If the children spend an equal amount of time with both parents, then the parents will be deemed to have joint physical custody.


Notwithstanding the fact that physical custody may be unequal, family law judges look favorably upon a parent who understands the need for their children to have regular access to both parents.  Thus, it is important that people involved in custody disputes understand that they will get a lot further along in the process if they cooperate with one another, and try to reach a consensus.  


Legal Custody


Legal custody is a distinct parental right governed by California Family Code section 3003.  It involves the right of the parents to make decisions regarding their children’s health, education and welfare.  These decisions include the selection of the children’s doctors, the schools they attend, their religious instruction, and after school activities. 


Legal custody boils down to a parent’s right regarding any major decision for the child.  Generally, both parents are awarded joint legal custody, which means that they both have an equal say in these decisions, even if the children spend the majority of their time with only one of the parents.  In the rare instance where a court will order something less than joint legal custody, there must be a showing that a parent is either an unfit parent, or otherwise incapable of making decisions regarding their children’s welfare.  The burden of making that showing will be on the party who is making the allegations.

San Diego Paternity Attorney


How to Obtain Adoption


When a child is adopted, the legal rights of the child’s biological parents are terminated and those rights are transferred to the adopting parents.


Often, a party’s new spouse may wish to adopt his or her stepchildren.  If the noncustodial biological parent agrees to the process and the adopting stepparent is deemed to be a fit parent by the county, there is generally no problem. When the biological parent disagrees with the adoption, the legal aspects become much more complex, and the advice of an experienced family law attorney is critical.  There are various other situations, including parties that are unrelated to the child, distant relatives, and agency adoptions.


We can help you through every step of the adoption process - even people who have gone through the adoption process experience the stress of uncertainty. Having an experienced family law attorney, will help alleviate that fear. 

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