Facing a custody lawsuit could be stressful and complicated. Whether your child custody issues are due to a divorce or you are just trying to resolve parenting problems that do not fall under the purview of a divorce, the proceedings cannot be well-gauged. If you are a parent living in California and are currently encountering child custody disputes, it’s important you get accustomed to California’s custody laws. With proper education, you will be more confident about things as they progress.
Custody in California
There are basically two kinds of custody a judge could award: physical and legal. Both could be awarded to either or both parents.
Physical custody indicates the place where the child lives. The custody could be joint, or shared by the parents, which means the child would live with his parents alternatively. Sole custody denotes the kid stays only with the custodial parent. However, the other or non-custodial parent can visit the kid and be part of important decision-making.
Legal custody denotes which parent should make decisions pertaining to the upbringing of the child. This covers decisions relating to education, religion, medical care, and other things related to the child’s health or well-being.
A joint legal custody scenario indicates both parents can participate in the decision-making process. Sole legal custody puts the onus on one parent. A parent with sole legal custody is well within his or her rights to make decisions relating to the kid’s upbringing without bringing the other parent into the picture.
Best Interests Standard
Under California law, child custody decisions are steered by the principles below:
- The welfare, safety, and health of the child
- The advantages of continual and frequent contact or interaction with both parents
As a parent, you should know that the law is in favor of both parents continuing a meaningful association with their kid(s). Both parents enjoy equal custody rights and a parent will not be preferred over another for any reason—be it gender, financial status, employment status, education, etc. Courts could consider whether one parent can allow the other parent continuing and frequent contact with the child, but the mother isn’t prioritized over the father.
As per California law, its best for the kid to grow in a safe, permanent, loving, and stable environment. The judge may consider multiple factors relating to the best interests of a child, including the following:
- Age of the child
- Nature of relationship between the parents and how it could influence the welfare of the child
- The child’s preference (under specific circumstances)
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse
- The stability of proposed or current living facilities for the kid
- Motivation of the concerned parties and their ability to provide the child affection, love, and guidance
- The way the child adjusts to his or her current home and community
- Each parent’s capacity to let and foster continuing and frequent contact between the other parent and the child
- Each parent’s capacity to effectively co-parent and resolve disputes
- Other factors that could hurt the child’s welfare, safety, or health
If the kid is fourteen years or older, the judge should listen to the kid’s preferences. If the child states a preference, it must be considered by the judge. However, the judge isn’t mandated by law to go with the child’s preference. The judge can still exercise his discretion and arrive at a decision he thinks would be in the kid’s best interests. Generally, the judge would peruse all aspects of the case holistically and check if the kid has been influenced or conditioned by a parent against the other parent before arriving at a decision.
Contact a family law attorney in San Bernardino to learn where you stand as a parent who is going through child custody problems.