The Child’s Best Interests Explained

As a divorcing parent in California, you have probably heard the term, “in the child’s best interests.” It’s a phrase with a comforting idea. However, as a parent at the mercy of the court, the vague verbiage behind this kind sentiment can be confusing. Here’s what the court means when they refer to “the child’s best interests.”

All states have different philosophies and ways of making decisions when it comes to custody. In California, the court strongly believes that it is in the best interests of the child to have a relationship with both parents, as long as the parents have not done anything that would indicate they are a danger to the child. Some reasons a judge might not grant a parent custody or visitation of his or her child include:

  • Domestic violence or abuse (either of a child or spouse)
  • Murder or other serious charges
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Child endangerment charges

Determining Custody

The court strongly encourages divorcing parents to agree on a custody plan on their own. If the divorcing parents are unable to agree to a custody arrangement themselves, the court determines one for them. The judge decides if there will be sole or joint legal custody and also the physical custody of the child, which is the actual days and times the child spends with each parent. The judge has to look to many factors to make a sound decision that will be in the child’s best interests.

Many Factors in Determining Custody

There are many factors the court might consider before awarding custody. One, the court looks for signs of potential parental alienation. In cases where the judge suspects this might happen, he or she may decide to restrict (or even completely revoke) access to the child.

Remember, one of the top philosophies of the courts in California is that a child benefits from healthy relationships with both parents. If it seems likely that one parent will try to ruin the relationship between the child and the other parent, the courts see that as a threat to the health and well-being of the child.

Also, a child might be able to voice his or her preference. Although the court values the opinions of all children, it gives heavier weight to the opinions of older children who might have a better understanding of the current situation.

Additionally, the court considers which parent would be able to best care for the child. Ideally, the child should spend time with the parent who is best able to take care of the child’s needs and keep the child’s life as stable as possible.

Do You Have Custody Questions?

As a divorcing parent, you know you want to spend as much time with your child as possible. If you have questions about what to say or do to ensure you are awarded the correct amount of time, KL Family Law can help. Our qualified attorneys are ready to answer your questions and help guide you through this challenging process. Give us a call today at 714-372-2217 or contact us online.

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KL Family Law

At KL Family Law, we understand that your primary concern is the well-being of your children. We strive to offer tailored solutions for your family law needs and help you move forward through this difficult transition.

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