California law holds the best interests of the child or children to be paramount in any decisions involving custody or divorce. Although that may seem to be a subjective standard, there are certain well-tested guidelines and indicators that the court may use to determine what the most nurturing environment may be and how to get the child into that situation while limiting any trauma.
The court strongly prefers to see both parents working together to come up with a reasonable solution for their child care question. One positive outcome is for the parents to agree on a parenting and custody plan, which they can put in writing for presentation to the court, mutually. The court may then assume to a degree that the plan represents the best interests of the child.
The court’s task becomes more complex in situations where there is a dispute between the parents. One step may be to send both parents to a counselor. It is within the judge’s rights to order a psychological evaluation of the family and to appoint a lawyer to represent the child or children. The health and safety, emotional well-being and uninterrupted progress of the education of the child are of primary importance. In addition, any history or plausible allegations of abuse will be considered. If the child is old enough to make informed decisions, then the wishes of the child may be taken into account.
Showing the court what the best interests of the child may be is essential in child custody cases. An attorney may be able to provide valuable guidance to those who want to understand what the court wants to see from a custodial parent. The attorney might also present any necessary information or documentation in the proper manner.
Source: The State Bar of California , “What should I know about divorce and custody? “, October 29, 2014