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Legal Information: California


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January 11, 2024

What is joint custody?

Joint custody means you share custody with the other parent. In California, there is not a preference for joint custody as there is in some other states.1

Joint legal custody is when both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child.2 These decisions include the education, religious training, counseling, health care, extracurricular activities, as well as where the child will live. The court may assign one parent to have sole power to make certain decisions and may give both parents equal rights and responsibilities for other decisions.

Joint physical custody is when custody is shared in a way that gives both parents frequent and substantial contact with the child.3 It does not necessarily mean that the child spends half of the time with each parent. Instead, the child spends blocks of time with each of the parents, who share the right and responsibility to raise the child in their homes. Each parent has more than simple visitation privileges.

1 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 3040(e)
2 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 3003
3 Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 3004