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Child Custody Laws in California

Going through a divorce or legal separation can be a very emotional and stressful process for anyone. Separating couples, however, can find themselves in an even more challenging road when the process involves their young children. Young children often do not understand the implications of a divorce and what role the event will have on their lives. A divorce can certainly take a toll on the parents and it can definitely affect the minors in a number of ways.

Any parent considering divorce in the State of California should recognize the state’s position on child custody. Any person’s expectations of child custody can be drastically different than what is really true about the law.

Laws Concerning the Child’s Best Interest

When a California court has become involved in a family’s child custody case, the system has an obligation to make a decision in favor of what is considered to be in the best interests of the minor. This decision could involve a number of different factors that could include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Each parent’s financial situation,
  • Parent’s history of drug use or substance dependency,
  • Parent’s history of criminal activity,
  • Parent’s history of domestic abuse,
  • Housing agreements and/or arrangements,
  • The child’s school schedule,
  • Extracurricular activities the children may be involved in, and
  • The residence of other family members

The bottom line is, when the court is attempting to reach an arrangement of custody for the family, it will make a decision that undermines any drastic interruptions in the child’s life and daily routines. Ultimately, the court will work toward proving the child with the most supportive and positive environment as possible.

Other Dynamics Used to Determine Child Custody Rights in 2019

When a California family court judge is reviewing a custody case, he or she will consider a multitude of issues in effort of making the best decision for the child. This can involve the following issues:

  • A judge will consider the custody arrangements the parents may have agreed upon but will ultimately make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.
  • The family courts will take into account the criminal backgrounds of each individual parent. The following factors will weigh heavily on custody determinations:
  • If the parent engaged in any form of domestic violence,
  • Committed a felony, or
  • Engaged in the physical and/or sexual abuse of a minor
  • The parenting skills of each individual parent is important and a judge will likely initiate an analysis to determine each parent’s ability to adequately care for the children.
  • Today, family law judges will take into account the child’s wishes if the child is able to coherently and reasonably explain his or her choices. Depending on the judge, the child’s age may not be a factor in his or her ability to state a preference.
  • Household stability is another major factor a judge will examine. If one parent has made a habit of continuously moving, the judge could see this negatively.

Seek the Legal Advice of a Skilled Family Law Attorney

Each and every child custody case will be different. A couple that is separating or divorcing will usually have many other issues they will need to address but for California courts, it is always important to keep the stability of the children as the main priority.

If you have questions regarding a potential or existing legal separation or divorce and child custody matters, seek the legal support of a qualified law firm. At Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP, protecting the interests of our clients is of utmost importance. If you need support with a family law matter, obtain the support of a skilled law firm today.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.