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How Does Joint Physical Custody of Children Really Work in California?

Posted on in Child Custody and Visitation

Los Gatos joint child custody lawyerMany divorced parents prefer the idea of joint physical custody of their children versus an arrangement in which one parent has sole physical custody while the other has scheduled visitation. However, when it comes to making it work in the real world, joint physical custody raises a lot of questions. Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions:

Does Joint Physical Custody Require an Exact 50/50 Split of Time?

Joint physical custody implies a relatively equal split of a child’s time between two parents. However, the law does not require joint custody to be an exact, 50/50 split of calendar days. A time split of 60/40, for example, may still be considered joint physical custody. There is no hard and fast rule. 

Parents should note that, according to the California Child Support Guidelines, child support payments should be calculated based on the actual percentage of time a child spends with each parent.

Who Decides How Much Time the Children Spend With Each Parent?

The California courts allow parents to develop their own parenting plan and present it to the judge for approval. If the parents agree that they should share equal responsibility for raising their children, and they agree on joint legal and joint physical custody, they can create whatever co-parenting plan works for their family circumstances. 

The most important thing is that the parenting plan be clear and as specific as possible, so that both parents know what they are committing to. Once that plan is approved by the court, it becomes legally enforceable. 

What Are the Most Common Joint Physical Custody Plans?

One common approach is for parents to exchange custody at the end of each week on either Friday night or Sunday night.

Another common plan is the 2-5 plan, where one parent has the kids on Monday and Tuesday, the other parent has the kids on Wednesday and Thursday, and the parents alternate the Friday-to-Sunday weekends. 

A third approach is the 2-2-3 plan, where parent A has the kids on Monday and Tuesday, parent B on Wednesday and Thursday, parent A from Friday to Sunday, then parent B on Monday and Tuesday, and so on.

Many factors can play into a joint physical custody plan, including the age of the children, each parent’s work schedule, and the distance between the parents’ homes. There are even online software tools that can help you create and keep track of your child care schedule, with suggestions based on the age of the child.

Consult a Los Gatos, CA Child Custody Lawyer

If you need help resolving child custody or visitation issues in your divorce case, consult an experienced Los Gatos child custody attorney. At the Law Offices of Benita Ventresca, we have 40 years of experience in helping our clients resolve child custody issues in a peaceable way, putting an emphasis on mediation over litigation. Contact us at 408-395-8822 for a free initial consultation.


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