There are two kinds of custody in California, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the power to make decisions about the child’s health, safety, education, and welfare. This is normally joint (shared) unless you can show the court compelling evidence that the other parent cannot be trusted with equal decision-making power. It is very rare that one parent is completely unable to share decision-making power about important areas of a child’s life and even in cases where one parent is, for example, strenuously anti-vaccination, the Court will sometimes give limited sole legal custody to the other parent to get the child vaccinated (all courts in California will rule that children must be vaccinated if there is any dispute between he parents). Physical custody and parenting time (visitation) are about where the child lives. California law provides that both parents are equal and that neither parent can claim priority because of their gender, earning status, disability, sexual orientation, new partner, or any of a number of different categories. This does not mean that most cases end up with a true 50/50% time share. The judge will consider the more specific facts of your case (age of the child, work schedule of the parents, history of the relationship between the parent and child, any evidence of drugs.
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