Many people know the Sacramento child custody court will consider the health, safety and welfare of the children in making child custody and visitation orders. But what does health, safety, and welfare€ really mean, particularly when both parents love and properly care for the children?

In evaluating the health, safety, and welfare, the court can look to many critical considerations in determining the visitation plan that would be in the children best interest.  One important factor is

the child’s interest in a stable and continuous relationship with both parents and the impact of a modified custody arrangement on the child’s emotional stability. A big part of this factor is looking at the current visitation plan and how well or poorly the child is handling it.  The court will want to see both parents respective involvement before and after separation and whether either parent developed a sudden interest in the child when court proceedings were initiated.  The court will also want to see if there is appropriate ethical, emotional and intellectual guidance from each parent.

Another consideration is the comparative abilities of the parents to set appropriate limits and to respond to the child’s needs. The court will look at the extent to which each parent teaches the child affection, sympathy, and wisdom to deal with the problems of growing-up.

The court is interested in comparing the extent to which each parent causes or avoids conflict with the other parent.  Each parents maturity level is assessed and the court considers whether the parent is properly shielding the child from the parental conflict or inappropriately exposing and involving the child in the conflict.  The court also wants to see how good or poor the parents are at putting the child’s interest above their own. The court will evaluate past poor parental conduct and parental animosity in evaluating which parent is the more mature. (Parents must be aware that the court is not interested in judging which parent is less blameworthy; the court simply wants to know if either parent has done hateful things to the other parent and in the process hurt the child.)  Another consideration is the child’s age, development, adaptability, attachment, and their response to the parental break-up.

The court evaluates whether there is documented evidence of one parent abusing the other parent or the child. Abuse includes alcohol abuse, drug abuse (street or prescription), mental/psychiatric illness, etc.  The court also will consider any documented history of domestic violence. Documentation usually includes police reports, criminal convictions, and civil liability for assault/battery.

The parental schedules and distances between each the parental residences are also significant.  If one parent’s work/social schedule affects their ability to care for the child, it can lead the court to award greater visitation to the other parent.  Similarly, the distance between the two parental residences is important.  If one parent lives further away from the children’s school and extracurricular activities, it can lead the court to award greater visitation to the other parent.

the considers one crucial standard when determining custody rights between litigating parents” the best interest of the children.  Simply put, the court evaluates the children best interests by analyzing which custody arrangement will maximize the children health, safety and welfare. The court will review all available evidence and rely heavily upon input from the child custody mediator in determining the form of legal custody and the form of physical custody is likely to be the most beneficial to the children.  The Sacramento child custody court makes these determinations by focusing on the particular needs of the children and the typical child development factors as outlined in the child custody mediators report.

If you are about to undergo a custody battle, please do not hesitate to call us for a free half-hour consultation. Our Sacramento child custody attorneys are prepared to meet with you and discuss your custody options.