From the divorce process, to following divorce, there can be a variety of child custody complexities and challenges for parents to navigate. Because of this, it can be helpful to ensure parents understand some of the fundamentals of child custody and how it is determined in California.

Child custody decisions are based on what is in the best interests of the child. This determination is situational and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis so that each child custody determination meets the needs of the child and what is in their best interests. The best interests of the child standard is intended to ensure the child’s overall safety and well-being in whatever child custody arrangement is worked out. Parents are encouraged to work together to develop a child custody arrangement but should also focus on what is in the best interests of the child.

Factors the family law court will consider to determine what is in the best interests of the child include the age and health of the child; the emotional ties between the parents and the child; the ability of the parents to care for the child; the child’s ties to their home, school and community; and any history of abuse in the family including family violence or substance abuse. Both physical and legal custody of the child must be resolved which may include visitation and the parenting plan as parents moved forward.

Understanding child custody basics, and how child custody is determined, can help parents sort through their child custody process and changes that may need to be made down the road. Child custody can be emotional and challenging but remaining focused on what is best for the kids is always best.