One of the biggest decisions in a California divorce is who will get physical custody of the children. Physical custody refers to which parent the children will live with. If your ex-spouse is a danger to your children, there is no question that primary physical custody is the best option for you. But, if your child has a close, loving relationship with your ex, you may want to explore different options.

When a parent is granted primary physical custody in California, it means that the child lives exclusively with that parent. The other parent is allowed visitation rights. This means that your child will have pre-scheduled visits with your ex. The frequency of those visits will be part of your divorce agreement.

Primary physical custody may be a good idea if one spouse travels a lot or works long hours. In this case, the child may benefit from living with the parent who is locally based. Young children thrive on consistency, especially when there are changes in their lives. Primary physical custody means that your child wakes up in the same room, goes to the same school, and plays with the same friends on a daily basis.

Because consistency is good for children, primary physical custody may be considered even if both parents are readily available. But, there are some challenges.

The first is that your child will miss the other parent. It can be very traumatic for a child to go from seeing both parents on a daily basis, to seeing dad only on weekends. Your child may be giving up favorite routines like the funny voices dad always made while telling the bed time story or the piggy back ride to bed. Your child may feel that you made dad go away.

The second is that you’ll have more responsibilities. With primary physical custody, you are in charge of everything from dinner to discipline. If and your ex-spouse shared childcare duties in the past, this can be an overwhelming change.

There is no easy answer. However, our San Francisco divorce lawyers will help you find the child custody solution that’s best for you.

The San Francisco divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan are committed to helping women protect their rights and their children. To learn more, request a free copy of Paul Nathan’s book, What Every Woman in California Should Know About Divorce, or contact us at 866-414-4091 to schedule a legal consultation.