When a couple with children splits up, the state of California often designates one parent as the custodial parent. The custodial parent generally has more responsibilities when it comes to raising the children.

In general, the children live with the custodial parent most of the time. However, there are steps that a parent must take before he or she is considered to be the custodial parent. Parents still have to file for child custody in order for the courts to give them custodial rights, even if the other parent is voluntarily not involved. It should also be noted that the noncustodial parent may still have visitation rights.

There are many benefits to being the custodial parent. The main benefit is getting to spend more time with the children than the other parent. In addition to having more involvement in the children’s day-to-day lives, the custodial parent may also have more influence over the children’s interests. Custodial parents are also generally eligible to receive child support, which can be used to assist with the costs associated with raising a child.

Many couples will want to deal with child custody issues on their own without the use of the courts. However, going through the process of determining who the legal custodial parent is and putting together a formal visitation schedule can be beneficial as this provides a guideline for both parents to follow. A family law attorney may assist with developing a parenting plan that benefits both the parent and the children. If parents cannot agree on custody issues, the attorney may work with psychologists and investigators to help establish important facts that could influence the court’s decision, such as the mental stability of the other parent.