Child custody in California is determined based on what is in the best interests of the child. To get at what is in the best interests of the child, which varies by child and by circumstances, the family law court considers a variety of factors to help them reach a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.

When evaluating child custody, the court commonly is looking at the child’s overall safety, health and well-being and what type of child custody arrangement is most likely to achieve that. Factors the court considers when determining what is in the best interests of the child include the age of the child; the health of the child; the emotional ties between the child and the parents; the ability of each of the parents to care for the child; the child’s connections to their home, school and community; and if there is any family history of violence of substances abuse.

Because the child custody process and family law court focuses on what is in the best interests of the child, and developing a child custody arrangement that favors that, it is helpful for parents, who are also encouraged to reach a child custody agreement together, to also focus on what is in the best interests of the child. To better do that, parents should be familiar with what the best interests of the child standard refers to and how it is arrived at.

What is in the best interests of the child is the guiding determination for child custody decisions, what the family law court focuses on and what the parents should focus on as well. It can help parents work out a child custody arrangement that is beneficial for the child and the family.