In a California family law case when there is a dispute over child custody, people will often walk in with certain preconceived notions as to what the court will consider. Many might automatically think that the courts will favor the mother over the father in a male/female relationship or take other individual facts into account. That, however, is untrue. Still, there are aspects that the court will consider with child custody and the main goal of adhering to the child’s best interests. This should be considered as the case moves forward.
Understanding order of preference with a child custody determination
The court’s primary objective is to serve the child’s best interests. That holds true for its order of preference in child custody. First, the courts prefer that the parents share custody in a joint arrangement or to give custody to one parent or the other. If custody is given to one parent, the court wants there to be frequent and continuing contact with the other parent. In this category, the court can ask for the parents to provide a plan they will use to follow the custody order. The court can also decide not to grant custody to either parent if it benefits the child to live with another guardian and that environment is stable and nurturing.
When making its decision, the person granted custody – whether it is a parent or not – will not need to worry about immigration status impacting the case if proper care is provided to the child. Gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation will not be a determinative factor. There is no preference for a custody arrangement meaning the court does not favor joint legal custody, sole custody or joint physical custody. The objective is to find the most stable situation for the child. If there are more than two parents, the best interests still apply, but the court will gauge stability and a stable situation.
Child custody’s complexities generally requires legal assistance
The child should take precedence in a family law case in which child custody is in dispute. Of course, parents will have their own goals in these cases and disagreements are common. If there is a chance at an amicable agreement, that will likely be better for everyone. If that cannot be achieved and, for example, a father is concerned about not getting a fair chance at custody, it is imperative to understand the law. To be fully shielded regardless of the perspective, having professional advice is a prudent choice.