Single parents in California generally become custodial parents if their children live with them the majority of the time. This arrangement, however, might require a court to officially declare that a person is a custodial parent. Even someone who has sole physical custody because the other parent is voluntarily uninvolved in the child’s life could need to petition a court so that the custodial status becomes a matter of public record.

The children of a custodial parent often qualify for child support payments from the noncustodial parent. Parents who ask the courts to name them as custodial parents might seek child support at the same time. The income of parents and state guidelines determine the calculation of child support amounts.

A custodial parent will serve as the primary caregiver. This means taking part in the day-to-day activities of children, helping them with school assignments and guiding them through life’s inevitable ups and downs as they mature. Despite the challenges of parenting children, custodial parents have the opportunity to build a deep relationship with their children.

A person who needs to approach the court and request child custody might want the representation of a family law attorney. Legal advice could help someone understand how to deal with specific challenges like collecting child support or attaining custody if he or she currently does not have access to his or her children. An attorney could review the details and suggest strategies for convincing a judge to deliver a favorable ruling. A lawyer could organize financial records that demonstrate either the need for child support or the person’s ability to provide for his or her children. Legal representation might also enable someone to open negotiations with his or her ex so that they can come to terms privately about custody and support without leaving every decision to a judge.