When family law courts decide custody issues, they determine custody based on the “best interests of the child” standard. This standard has two guiding principles that must be considered when deciding custody or visitation. Family Code General Provisions (California Family Code Section 30201) establishes these principles as:
- The health, safety, and welfare of the child; and
- The encouragement of frequent and continuing contact between parent and child
Within these two guidelines are numerous factors that must be weighed by the court on a case-by-case basis. These factors contain elements from several different California statutes. All California family law courts must consider these guidelines and all that they entail when determining child custody orders.
Determining the Best Interests of the Child
According to the Placer County Superior Court of California there are a number of factors used by the courts to help them assess what type of custody arrangement would be in the child’s best interest.2 These factors include:
- Child’s age
- The relationships between the parents and those who could have a significant effect on the welfare of the child
- The child’s preference, provided the child is old enough to express a reasoned opinion
- How long the child has lived under the current arrangements, and the desire to maintain that arrangement
- How stable the proposed arrangements would be for the child
- The capacity of the parents to give affection, love, and guidance
- How adjusted the child is to his/her current home, school, and environment
- The ability and motivation of each parent to encourage contact between child and parent
- Parent cooperation in child care
- Willingness of each parent to create and use methods that assist with parent cooperation and dispute resolution
- If granting custody to a parent would be a detriment to the child and if removing the child from a stable environment provided by a non-parent for a significant amount of time would be detrimental to the child
- Parental history of domestic violence
- Any other factors that would affect the child’s psychological and physical well-being
When considering these factors, be aware that the court will evaluate each parent, as well as their dating, engagement, or married relationships. Other factors that will be considered are any abuse allegations, and use of illegal or controlled substances, alcohol, or prescription medications of each parent. The court may require independent corroboration for these factors as well as for any abuse allegations from law enforcement agencies, medical facilities, social welfare agencies, courts, probation departments, and facilities that provide drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation and services.
California law supports and encourages parents to create their own parenting and custody agreements, and requires those parents who are unable to do so to attend mediation prior to court. When parents are unable to agree on legal or physical custody arrangements, the court will determine custody based on the factors listed here and what is in the best interest of the child.
Call the Child Custody Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you are facing a child custody battle, you need to speak with an experienced family law attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our attorneys can review the facts of your case, and help you navigate the complicated legal process. Our skilled child custody attorneys have been successfully representing our clients in child custody and family law matters for over 30 years. We can help you today.
We have offices conveniently located Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, so there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich family law attorney available no matter where you work or live.
Call our offices today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.