upset child in middle of fighting parents

How Judges Determine the Best Interests of a Child

Along with financial issues, child custody matters represent some of the most contentious and challenging aspects of divorce proceedings in California and across the country. If you're a parent contemplating a divorce or involved in a newly initiated marriage dissolution case, you likely have some significant questions and concerns pertaining to child custody issues.

At the heart of these concerns very well may be a desire to have an understanding of how a judge determines what is in the best interests of a child when it comes to custody and parenting time or visitation.

Child Custody Judicial Standard

Parents naturally are concerned about the best interests of their children. In a divorce setting, the term "best interests of the child" also have an important legal meaning. The best interests of the child are the legal or judicial standard used by the court when a judge makes decisions regarding custody of the child and parenting time or visitation with the child, according to Cornell Law School.

Although a parent like you does have rights in divorce proceedings when it comes to your children, the paramount concern in a marriage dissolution case is the unique interests of minors born during the marriage. A number of factors come into play when a court is called upon to ascertain the best interests of a child in regard to custody and parenting time.

Factors Used by Court in Determining the Best Interests of a Child

A judge relies upon the specific facts and circumstances of an individual case when making custody and parenting time decisions based on the best interests of a child. There isn't a "one size fits all" template imposed by a court in rendering a decision regarding the custody of and parenting time with a minor child.

The specific set of factors considered by the court in making a custody determination varies from one case to another. With that said, there are some common factors that a court utilizes in ascertaining best interests:

  • Physical, mental, emotional health of parents;

  • Physical, mental, emotional health of child or children;

  • Parent best suited to maintain a stable home environment;

  • Parent who historically provided primary care of child or children;

  • Parent most apt to facilitate regular and recurring parenting time;

  • Special needs of child or children;

  • Age and sex of child or children; and,

  • Preference of child or children (if capable of reasonably expressing a preference).

A child custody attorney must present evidence to the court pertaining to these various factors. In some cases, a court will call upon an expert to evaluate the facts and circumstances of a particular case in light of the factors of concern to a judge.

Bear in mind that if you've multiple children, a determination of the best interests of a child is made in regard to each of your offspring. What is in the best interests of one of your children may not be the same for another.

Protect Your Legal Rights with a Skilled Family Law Attorney

At the outset, child custody and parenting time represent truly contentious and complicated issues. You best protect your legal rights and interests in divorce proceedings involving children by retaining the services of a skilled, skilled family law attorney.

The first step in hiring a qualified, tenacious child custody attorney is scheduling an initial consultation to discuss your case. As a matter of practice in California, a typical family law attorney charges no fee for a preliminary consultation with a prospective client. A child custody lawyer can also answer any questions you have about how a court makes child custody and parenting time decisions.

Call Creative Family Solutions, Cecil Cianci Law, PC at (916) 675-3866 to discuss your case.