Determining who gets child custody can be a difficult decision, and you may be in a situation where you are struggling to agree with your ex-partner. In California, when this happens the vital decision normally falls to the courts and a judge. They do this by determining what is in “the best interests of the child.” This is a complex legal issue that is very important to our clients, and we are here to help.
For both types of custody, legal and physical, you can have joint or sole custody. In divorce proceedings, if parents disagree about custody, neither the mother nor the father automatically receive custody. Instead, the judge looks at a wide array of factors:
- The child’s health
- The strength of emotional bonds between parents and child
- The child’s age
- The parents’ ability to provide for the child in terms of finances and overall health
- The child’s relationship with his or her home, school and community
- A parent’s history of substance abuse or violence
The judge carefully considers these factors before deciding who gets custody. Factors that the judge does not consider include lifestyles, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, physical disabilities and marriage history. If the judge determines that it is not in the best interests of the child to live with either parent, then he or she will typically choose an outside guardian, such as a grandparent, to fill that role.
Hopefully, you will not need to go to court to argue your case for custody; however, if you do, keep in mind that the judge will ultimately listen to you and your child’s wishes alongside these other factors. For more information on this subject, please visit our page on child custody.