If you are a parent who is going through a divorce in California, you might wonder what criteria a court will use to determine child custody. The standard a court uses is whatever is in the best interests of the child.
The role of parents
This can be difficult for parents to understand sometimes because they may both feel they can best provide what is in the child’s best interests. However, a judge may be able to take an objective look at factors such as what arrangements would be less disruptive and which parent may be better able to provide a stable environment for the child. In some cases, a parent might feel that the other parent cannot do this, but this is often a disagreement over parenting styles. A parent who is concerned about the child’s safety with the other parent, either because of abuse or for other reasons, might want to discuss this and how to proceed with an attorney.
A judge may also consider the age of the child and how mentally and physically healthy the child and both parents are. A court may look at how settled the child is in one particular community or school, and older children might have the opportunity to share their own wishes. A judge will also look at the willingness of parents to cooperate with one another. It is usually best for parents to look past any conflict they have with their ex and try to work together as effective coparents.
Parents who are preparing for a custody hearing can take certain steps to better demonstrate their involvement in their child’s life. For example, they may want to document such actions as taking the child to the doctor or attending parent-teacher meetings.