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Determining child custody in California

| Apr 2, 2021 | Child Custody |

Couples often struggle to communicate and reach agreements on the various matters they must settle to finalize a divorce. For many, one of the biggest quarrels they face revolves around the rights and responsibilities of caring for their children.

In deciding child custody awards, family law courts may consider child-related and parent-related factors to determine the child’s best interests.

Parent-related factors

According to California state law, family law courts may consider some factors that relate specifically to the parents when determining a child’s best interest with regards to custody. For instance, the court may factor into its decision whether either parent has a history of committing abuse against the child, the other parent or certain other people. The court may also weigh into its decision if one parent or the other habitually or continually abuses controlled substances, prescription medications or alcohol.

Child-related factors

According to the Judicial Council of California, in determining the custody arrangement for a child, the court may take into account the child’s age and health. Additionally, the court may consider the emotional ties that exist between each of the parents and the child. The child’s ties to his or her home, school and community may also play a role in the court’s custody determination.

Non-applicable factors

Some factors may play no part in the court’s decision. The court will not consider either parent’s sexual orientation, religious beliefs or lifestyle preferences when making a child custody award. Additionally, the court does not put weight in whether the child’s parents were never married or whether either of them has a physical disability.

Parents have the opportunity to make custody agreements based on what they believe will work for them and their families. However, the court may step in and make custody determinations based on these and other factors in cases when parents cannot agree on their own.