When parents divorce, they have to figure out how to share custody. Some parents will work together to negotiate a reasonable parenting plan themselves, but many parents have to litigate to resolve custody disagreements. If a judge has to make the decision, they will apply California state law.
Each parent theoretically has the same basic rights, but a judge will have to focus on what is best for the children. What factors influence the best interest of a child in a custody case?
The stability of the parents
One of the most important things a parent does is provide housing and daily structure for their children. A judge will look at how stable each parent is, ranging from their physical and mental health to their living circumstances, when making custody decisions.
The existing relationship each parent has with the kids
It is common for one parent to spend far more time with the children than the other. A judge will look at the bond each parent has with the children when deciding how to split parenting time. However, even a parent who spends very little time with their children has the right to ask for shared custody.
The needs and wishes of the children
Sometimes, a child needs to stay in a certain school district because they have special educational needs or they need around-the-clock medical support. Older and more responsible children may have their own preferences about where they live. A judge may factor those needs and wishes into their decisions when deciding how to split parental rights and responsibilities.
When you understand what helps influence a judge's decisions, you can be more strategic about how you present yourself and make decisions regarding custody matters. Learning more about California's custody laws can help you prepare.