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Los Gatos child custody lawyer same sex parents surrogate motherAs family structures have become more diverse in recent decades, child custody issues have become more complicated. Traditionally, the world has followed the “rule of two” and allowed a child to have just two legal parents at birth: the woman who gave birth to the child and her husband (or, if the woman was unmarried at the time of the birth, the child’s biological father could claim paternity). One parent would have to die or legally terminate their parental rights in order for an adoptive parent to take their place.

However, divorce, same-sex marriage, informal parentage, adoption, surrogate pregnancies, and assisted reproduction have all contributed to an increase in family structures involving more than two parents, and American courts are starting to adapt to the idea of tri-parenting.

In 2013, California became the first state to pass a law allowing for a child to have more than two legal, living parents, and a similar law was recently passed in Maine. Courts in at least 10 other states have approved specific cases of third-parent adoptions, dual paternity, “psychological” (non-biological) parents, or “tri-custody.”

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Los Gatos child custody attorneyIn a divorce involving children, one of the most important decisions you will make is, “Who has legal custody of the children?”

The Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody 

Legal custody and physical custody are two separate issues. Physical custody refers to where the children will live. Legal custody describes who has the right to make major decisions about the lifestyle and care of minor children. This article will focus strictly on the definition of legal custody. 

Legal Custody in California

Under California law, the person(s) with legal custody has the right and responsibility to make critical decisions for the minor children, including: 

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California family lawyerIf you have children and are newly divorced, in the process of divorce, or seriously contemplating divorce, the issue of child custody is surely on your mind. You may be anxiously anticipating a contentious court battle, for example. The truth is, however, is that the kind of hostile courtroom scenarios depicted in television and film are not representative of the vast majority of dispute resolution.

Divorce is common and in many cases mutual and free from larger-than-life rancor and, when children are involved, with ex-spouses working together to share custody. Such sharing, in legal terms, is known as “joint custody.” An experienced Sunnyvale family law attorney can help determine whether joint custody is best for you and your children.

Joint Custody Is Conditional on Certain Minimum Criteria

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California divorce attorneyChild custody is often an issue of paramount importance in Bay Area divorce proceedings. While each parent may already have secured stability in terms of career, health, and future plans, a child, especially if young, is still developing intellectually, physically, and emotionally. When parents divorce, the impact on these areas of a child’s development can have both short-term and long-term effects. For this, courts in California do not rely on a default framework with regard to child custody.

In other words, rather than automatically awarding custody of a child to the mother or father based on a single reason, the court considers what is in the best interests of the child. In this consideration, courts evaluate several primary factors related to the child’s wellbeing and environment. A skilled Los Gatos child custody attorney is well acquainted with these factors and how California courts weigh them.

Age, Health, Emotional Ties, and Parental Ability Are Among the Relevant Child Custody Factors in California

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