Dealing with Child Custody in California
The reality of marriage is that couples who have children get divorced. This is when child custody will become an issue. In the state of California, a judge will evaluate all of the evidence presented to them and make a decision about custody based on what is in the best interest of the children. Each case begins with both parents having equal rights.
Health and Safety
When determining child custody, the California courts are required to consider a number of factors that will have an impact on the health and safety of the child. A judge is not likely to grant visitation or custody for a father who has been found guilty of attacking the child’s mother. A judge is not permitted to grant child custody or unsupervised visitation by a parent who has been convicted of physical or sexual assault on a child. Should it be proven that either parent is a continual or habitual alcohol or illegal substance abuser, it will be taken into consideration. Many of these situations can be substantiated by a report written by a California state agency as well as a medical or rehabilitation facility.
A California judge will do their best to determine which parent is most likely to promote a positive relationship with the other parent. This will be the parent who will work best with the continual and frequent contact between the child and the other parent. A judge will not find favor with a parent they suspect will interfere with a child’s relationship with the other parent. Should it be proven that a parent made an unsubstantiated allegation of sexual or other types of misconduct against the other parent, this could change a child custody ruling.
California has laws that require a judge to take into consideration the wishes of the child when it comes to determining child custody. The child must be mature enough to be able to make an intelligent choice in this situation. This particular California law does not identify any specific age. It often happens that the older and more mature a child, the greater the chance a judge will take the child’s opinion into consideration.
A judge will prefer a parent who can best provide a stable environment and continuity in a child’s life. To determine this, a judge will look at how a parent maintains established patterns of daily care. How a parent protects emotional bonds with the child is also important. A judge will also make every effort to keep siblings together. The exception is if the children are facing extraordinary circumstances.
There are certain things a parent in California should do if they want to get and maintain custody of their children.
*Be careful of their driving record and anyone permitted to transport their children.
*Be aware the ratings of movies seen with them.
*Don’t say anything negative against the other parent.
*Avoid any activities that would be susceptible to claims of bad parenting.
*Spend as much time as possible interacting with the children.
*Try to do things that will boost a child’s self-esteem.
There are two types of child custody in California. Legal custody describes a parent’s authority when it comes to being part of the major decisions in a child’s life. This includes education, health, religious experiences, general welfare and more. Physical child custody describes the location of the child’s physical presence with a parent. When there is joint physical custody, each parent has the child for significant periods of time. It is possible for a judge to grant one or both parents legal custody as well as joint custody.
Third Party Custodian
There are situations where neither parent is fit to care for their child. The child could be in danger because of the parent’s proven neglect. In these situations, it is possible for a judge to award child custody to a third party custodian. This could be a relative of the child’s or a non-relative the judge believes is the person best able to provide for a child’s needs.
Avoiding Court Decisions
If the two parents involved in a divorce are able to reach a child custody agreement on their own, a judge may not need to make the decision for them. It is possible for parents to work out arrangements on their own concerning legal and physical custody. Laws covering child custody in California require individuals who aren’t able to reach an agreement to utilize mediation before letting the court decide their child custody arrangements.
Many couples don’t know how to handle this situation. This is a good time for them to contact an experienced family attorney and focus on the facts. An attorney will be able to provide an honest evaluation of what a parent can expect concerning the legal and physical custody of their child.