Basics of Child Custody in California

Child custody is one of the most important issues in a pending divorce for parents. It can also be one of the most contentious. This is understandable as parents can face an anxious proceeding in which they often feel that their parent-child relationship may be threatened by the breakup of the family. Disagreements and highly-charged emotions can often replace common sense, fairness, compromise, and the underlying rule of what is in the child’s best interests as opposed to the parents’. If you and your spouse cannot agree on how custody and visitation arrangements should be made, it will be left up to the courts to decide after hearing evidence from both sides. Thus, it is vital to understand how courts operate and what they look at when deciding this critical issue.

Facing a custody issue in a divorce, paternity, or post-divorce case in Orange or Los Angeles Counties? US Legal Group, APC provides competent and compassionate legal help. Call (714) 266-3277 for a free consultation.

California Law on Child Custody

California law bases child custody and visitation arrangements on what is in the best interests of the child. When parents can’t come up with a workable parenting plan, the courts will review many factors pertaining to the situation to determine what is best for the child. Courts favor a continuing, frequent, and meaningful relationship to be maintained with both parents if possible.

The factors the court will review can include:

  • How old the child is
  • The child’s health
  • The nature of the emotional relationships between the child and both parents
  • How able the parents are to be able to care for the child; the parenting skills of both parties
  • What the preference of the child is if the child is mature enough to decide
  • How custody will affect the child’s relationship with siblings
  • How custody will affect the child’s ties with school, community, and other activities
  • Which parent is the more likely to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Any previous reports of domestic violence, substance abuse, or criminal behavior on the part of either parent
  • Any other factors the court finds relevant to the issue

It is important to understand that courts do not favor the sex of one parent over the other when it comes to custody arrangements; mothers do not get special treatment just because they are mothers. This holds true despite the age or sex of the child. Courts also do not deny custody on the basis of being unmarried. An unmarried father can gain custody of his child either through actions taken at the time of the birth or through a paternity action. Other factors that courts do not consider in regard to deciding custody include whether you have a physical disability, your religious beliefs, or your sexual orientation.

Courts also make court orders in regard to child support which the noncustodial parent commonly pays to the parent with whom the child mainly lives. This order is a separate matter from child custody which means you are not permitted to deny visitation because the other parent has lapsed in making support payments. You would have to address this matter separately and through the courts. Conversely, if you are the parent who owes child support, you cannot refuse to pay it based on being denied visitation. These matters should be handled with help from an attorney.

US Legal Group, APC Can Help

If you live in Orange County or throughout Los Angeles, you can get the help you need for custody, child support, or another family law issue from our firm. Our team is a dedicated group of professionals who will provide the thoughtful and caring guidance and representation you need from start to finish. We offer a free, initial consultation in which you can discuss your case to learn where you stand and how best to move forward towards achieving a successful result.

Contact us at (714) 266-3277 today.