California Child Custody Laws

Child custody issues are probably the most difficult issues to resolve in a divorce proceeding. Not really a part of the breakup of a family, children are often the ones who suffer the most emotional pain when a California couple decides to call it quits. And, unfortunately, for most families, California law and the court system ultimately have the last word in child custody disputes.

Being prepared for the child custody issues you may face during the process of your divorce will ease your children’s stress during their adjustment to this new family dynamic, help soothe their worries and concerns, and make your life more stable to help you deal with the sometimes very emotional process of divorce. Knowing what the laws in California are concerning child custody and the factors the court will consider in determining the future living situation of your children, is one way to help mitigate some of the angst divorce causes in children’s lives.

Considerations Made by California Judges In Determining Child Custody Issues

Some of the main areas of your life that a California judge will consider when deciding the fate of your children’s living arrangement and visitation circumstances include the following.
• The best interest of the child (or children);

• Which parent, if given custodial rights, will allow the children to see the other parent more often;

• What if any domestic violence has been present in the home; and

• Drug or alcohol abuse issues of either parent.
Gaining custody of your children in California can be a rollercoaster ride, but you can rest assured that whichever parent gains custody, the first consideration is the best interest of your children. California laws revolve around the determination of which parent can provide the most beneficial environment for a child in terms of health, welfare and safety as well as consideration of the parent who is most likely to support their children in an understanding and caring manner. And, unless abuse is present in the home, California statutes require “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents. This means that the court has a duty to grant custody of children in such a way as to assure that parents have opportunities to be an equal part of a child’s life and are able to make joint decisions that are in the best interest of a child.

California Law Always Gives Natural Parents Priority In Child Custody Decisions

While we have all heard horror stories of third party custody awards, the State of California is mandated to give natural parents first priority when determining child custody. However, you should be aware that California custody laws do provide vehicles whereby anyone who thinks they can provide a more stable, healthier home for a child than the natural parents may petition the court for custody (grandparents, step parents, etc.). But, the court will always first attempt to place a child with a suitable natural parent through a joint custody order or a primary sole custody award (one parent having sole custody). Only if neither parent is deemed to be suitable as guardian of their children will the judge entertained petitions from a third-party.

Contact An Experienced California Family Law Attorney About Your Child Custody Concerns

California child custody matters are complex, with the outcome of any court-mandated custody award being very important in respect to your children’s well-being. Therefore, it would be advisable to engage the services of a California family law attorney who is experienced in California child custody issues for advice on your particular situation. Family law attorney Bethanie Fanti can guide you through the complex California legal hurdles of divorce and child custody, direct you to child custody evaluators or guardian ad litems, and provide you with the resources you need to assure that your child has the best possible custody arrangement for his/her needs.

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