Like many California parents, you may want full custody of your child and want to know what your chances are of getting it.
Before answering that question, it is important to know what “full custody” really means. There are two different types of custody: legal and physical custody.
The difference between legal and physical custody
Legal custody means which parent makes major decisions about the child, such as decisions involving medical care, education and religion. Physical custody means who the child lives with, and when.
When you think of full custody, you are likely thinking of both. You want to be the one with sole decision-making power for your child and you want your child to live with you and not see the other parent.
This outcome is extremely rare. California courts examine several different factors when making custody decisions.
There are some factors that could work in your favor if you are seeking full legal and physical custody. However, you must have direct, compelling evidence.
Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse or domestic violence can increase your chance of getting full custody, but again, you must have strong evidence.
Proving your case with evidence
Many times, custody battles are nothing more than “he said-she said” situations. Your evidence can come from witness testimony, pictures or other documentation, such as criminal records.
Full custody may also be awarded in a situation where it is impossible for the other parent to see or make decisions for the child. A parent who is in prison for many years might not receive any legal or physical custody.
However, even if that situation, it is not uncommon for a court to award the parent in prison the right to communicate with their child.
Learn about your options
The bottom line is that in most situations, full custody is not awarded to one parent. Talking over your situation with a custody attorney can help you get a realistic idea of what to expect.