California recognizes two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody is the type of custody over which most parents fight, as most parties want as much time with their little ones as possible. In an ideal situation, the courts will award each parent equal amounts of custody, but most situations are not ideal. In non-ideal situations, the courts may award one parent more time than the other. Judges are very selective in how they choose to administer custody which is why petitioning for more custody is a challenging and drawn out process.
According to California Courts, judges award custody based on what is in the best interests of the child. To determine what is best for the child, the courts will consider several factors. Those factors are as follows:
- The age of the child
- The emotional connection between parent and child
- The child's health
- Each parent's aptitude to care for the child
- Any record of substance abuse or family violence
- The child's connection to his or her school, home and community
Of course, situations change. California Courts accommodates for those changes by outlining what a parent need do if he or she wishes to obtain more custody. If the parents agree to the proposed changes, they can modify the order via an agreement. However, if one parent objects to the proposed changes, the parent who wants the modification must file a motion with the courts requesting one.
The parent who files the motion must be able to prove a change in circumstances has occurred. This mean that there has been a significant change since the judge finalized the original custody agreement that affects the well-being of the child. Parties need keep in mind the courts will only change a custody agreement if doing so is in the best interests of the child.