As a parent going through a divorce or separation, you have preferences with regard to child custody. Some parents may prefer to have full physical and legal custody, while others may prefer joint custody.
However, it is important to remember that while your preferences do matter, there are more important factors to consider when determining child custody, such as the child’s well-being. The court will always prioritize the child’s best interests to make sure their needs are met.
How do courts determine what is in my child’s best interest?
Every family is different, and every child has different needs. That is why there is no set custody plan that works for everyone. However, courts may consider the factors listed in Section 3011 of the California Family Code when determining custody. These considerations include:
- The needs of the child are based on their age, health, involvement with the school and the community, and relationships with their parents, siblings, and other loved ones.
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child is based on their income, health, current relationship with the child, and substance abuse issues (if any).
- History of domestic violence in the home (if any).
When both parents are able and willing to care for and provide for the child, the court generally prefers that both parents have parenting time and have a say in how their children should be raised. Even if the child lives primarily with one parent during the school year, the custody schedule should allow for the child to be with the other parent during school breaks, weekends, and other times during the year.