There are actually two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to where the child resides and who supervises the child. California law prefers each parent to have significant periods of physical custody with their children, based on their circumstances. Physical custody must be shared in such a way to assure that the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents.
Legal custody refers to which of the parents has the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the child’s health, education, and welfare. Examples of legal custody decisions include the right to agree to non-emergency medical treatment. In many cases, legal custody is shared by the parents in a divorce. In some instances, where one spouse commits or threatens a crime of violence, a court may award the other spouse sole legal custody.
A Sacramento Divorce Court will make initial custody and visitation decisions from the standpoint of the best interest of the child. This broad mandate can cause custody disputes to balloon well beyond what the initial dispute was, as each parent tries to bolster their own case while undermining the other parent’s case.