California Child Custody Laws

If you have children in California and aren’t living with the other parent—because you’re getting divorced, are already divorced, or were never married—you should understand how the state’s laws on child custody apply to you. Custody includes both legal custody—the right to make important decisions affecting children’s health, education, and welfare—as well as physical custody—where children will live most of the time and how much time they’ll spend with the other parent.

Even when a judge has issued custody orders—which might be based on the parents’ agreement—those orders aren’t set in stone. Circumstances change, and divorced parents might need to go back to court to seek a change (modification) in the current parenting arrangement. This especially becomes an issue when one parent wants to move far away with the kids. Parents may also have to go back to court to enforce current custody orders. California law addresses all of these issues.

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