By far the hardest part about divorce is addressing the issue of child custody (parenting time). Splitting time with your child can be a rough transition for both the parents and the children involved. Along with the emotional stress comes the confusion and complexity of the court system. At West Coast Family Mediation Center, we have found that parents that work together to achieve a custody plan tend to be happier, and their children thrive thanks to creating a cohesive co-parenting relationship. Our mediators are glad to walk you through each step in drafting a child custody arrangement. Here are the most frequently asked questions we receive in our mediation office.
What Is the Difference Between Physical Custody and Legal Custody?
Physical custody is when the child is spending time with you. Legal custody is the ability for you to make parenting decisions regarding the child. This includes important choices like medical, educational, and religious decisions. Both physical and legal custody can be shared (joint custody) or one parent may have sole physical or legal custody. The courts encourage each parent, if able, to be an active participant in their child’s life and share physical and legal custody. Parents can have joint physical and legal custody without having an exact 50/50 schedule.
How Does Custody Impact Child Support?
In California, child support is calculated using a specific formula that takes the income of each parent, other financial considerations, and custody into account and produces a particular number. The smaller share of your custody time, the more you will be asked to pay in child support. This is with the understanding that because the child is with the other parent, they will have to spend more on day-to-day expenses to care for your child. Reversely, if you have a greater amount of time with your child, the less child support you will likely pay. If you have questions about your specific calculation, talk to your San Diego mediator.
How Do I Make the Transition Easier for My Kids?
While sharing custody can be emotionally jarring for kids, there are multiple ways that you can help ease the transition. Explain to your child(ren) in age-appropriate terms what will happen before it happens. Help your child pick out new decorations for their new room. Spend quality time with your children when you do have custody to assure them that they are not being abandoned or ignored. If your child begins to act out or is having a particularly difficult time, it may be a good idea to seek professional therapy.
If you have questions regarding child custody, call San Diego Family Mediation Center today. Call (858) 736-2411 to schedule your appointment today!