What Factors Into a California Child Custody Case?

Debating child custody is often one of the most adversarial aspects of any California divorce or separation case. In most cases, both sides want custody of their child or, at the very least, a favorable visitation schedule. Time with your child becomes more precious when you’re forced by the courts to split time with your ex.

There are historic misconceptions about the determination of child custody. It’s important to look at the actual law in the state of California to understand what factors into a child custody order. A number of elements are at play and you have the opportunity to improve your circumstances, thus improving your chances of a favorable ruling.

Best Interest of the Child

You will see this phrase – “best interest of the child” – as a bit of a theme across almost all states when it comes to child custody. A child custody order is meant to serve the child, not the parent or parents.

The courts ultimately don’t care how badly you want custody of your child. They want to ensure the child has the best opportunity to succeed and be provided for. It’s important to funnel your passion and care for your child into fostering a better life for them in your home and in your community.

All decisions made by the court will serve the best interests of the child, including down the line when either parent requests a modification of their child custody order.

Determining the Best Interest of the Child

California courts will look at both sides to determine which parent is able to better serve the interests of the child. These factors include:

  • The age and health of the child
  • The emotional ties between the parents and the child
  • The child’s ties to their school, home, and community
  • The ability of each parent to care for the child
  • Any history of family violence
  • Any regular and ongoing substance abuse by either parent

Those last two are essentially automatic disqualifiers for parents hoping to be named the custodial parent. If you abuse substances or people, you can kiss your chances of having custody of your child goodbye.

Note how ties to your child’s school are mentioned. If you aren’t able to stay in the family home during your divorce or separation, it’s important to consider moving somewhere within the same school district if your child has deep ties to their current school. This allows them to stay with friends and continue the progress they’ve made in their education.

Another major factor is the specific home you live in. A one-bedroom apartment doesn’t give your child their own private space to sleep and live. You should make sure any apartments or homes you look at provide them with their own space to grow and be a child.

At Hedtke Law Group, we believe in the connection between a parent and their child. We never like to see this connection disrupted, but we understand circumstances change. If you are hoping to get the best out of a California child custody order or need help getting your current order modified, contact our team today.