Child's Best Interest Basics / by Cassandra Hearn

 

In any divorce involving children or custody battle between parents, the biggest question the trial court must answer is: what is in the best interest of each child?  The judge will carefully evaluate the best interest factors as set out by California law to decide what type of parenting schedule is in the child's best interest. Neither parent gets an automatic preference just because of his or her gender. Instead, a judge will look at the facts of each case and evaluate custody according to the best interest factors,  including:

 - The health, safety, and welfare of the child;

- The child's age;

- The child’s relationship to his or her siblings;

- Relationship of the parents and any other people who may significantly affect the child's welfare;

 - If the child is old enough, the preference of the child;

- Duration and adequacy of the child's current living arrangements, and the preference for continuity;

- Stability of proposed living arrangements;

- Motivation of the parties and their ability to give love and affection to the child;

- Child's adjustment to his or her current home and school

- Capacity of each parent to encourage continuing contact between the child and the other parent;

- Capacity of the parents to cooperate;

- Each parent's willingness to cooperate in future dispute resolution;

- Effect on the child if one parent has sole authority over the child's upbringing;

- Any history of domestic violence; and

- Any other factors that have a reasonable bearing on the child.

 It may surprise some parties to discover the heavy emphasis courts place on the parents' behaviors. If one parent is easy to work with, trying to cooperate and compromise, and doing all he or she can to facilitate the child's relationship with the other parent, courts tend to trust and give preference to those types of parents. Conversely, a court will typically be displeased with a parent who tries to unreasonably block the other parent's access, or is rigidly inflexible.

 The courts also place weight on continuity and stability for the child. Divorce or custody proceedings can be a difficult time, especially for a child. Children typically thrive on stability and predictable schedules. Among the other factors described above, courts will look to which parent can better provide a stable lifestyle for the child.

 Any child custody decision is unique and fact-sensitive. We are experienced in presenting evidence and facts persuasively at court to best serve our clients and their children. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 to discuss your child and your case