How Is Custody Determined In CA When A Couple Is Divorcing?
Usually parents are able to come to an agreement about how they want to share custody of their minor children. However, when they cannot agree, a court needs to step in and determine what custody will look like. If the parents need the court to make a custodial determination to apply while the divorce case is open with the court, the court can do so after a hearing. If the court needs to make a custodial determination to apply once the divorce is final and the case is closed, that will require a trial. Trials are typically very expensive and stressful. Anytime a court makes a decision about custody, the court must do whatever is in the child’s best interest.
There is no limit on what a court may consider when determining what, exactly, is in a child’s best interest. However, a few factors which commonly arise include the following:
- The child’s wishes
- Security and stability each parent provides in his/her home environment
- The degree to which it makes sense for siblings to stay together
- Relationships between the child and other members of the household
- Age of the child
- Opportunity/access to other people who can positively interact with the child (like grandparents)
- Proximity of each parent’s residence to the child’s school or caregivers
- Child’s extra-curricular activities and how those activities may be impacted by different custodial arrangements
- Any special needs a child may have and the extent to which each parent is willing and able to ensure those needs are met
- Religious or cultural considerations
- Abuse by a parent or another member of a parent’s household
- Parental use of drugs/alcohol
- Evidence of child/sex abuse
- History of domestic violence
- The physical and mental health of each parent
Is There Ever An Age At Which A Child Can Decide Who He Or She Will Live With?
When a minor child is part of a divorce, the court will ultimately decide where the child lives if the parents do not reach an agreement on custody. However, there are circumstances under which a minor may share with the court what his/her preference is when it comes to custody and visitation. If a child is of “sufficient age and capacity” to reason so as to form an “intelligent preference” regarding custody or visitation, the court is required to consider the child’s wishes (and give appropriate weight to those wishes) when making a custody or visitation order.
The court has less flexibility about whether it will consider those wishes when a minor reaches 14 years of age. If a child is 14 years of age or older and the child wants to address the court regarding custody or visitation, the child must be allowed to do so, unless the court determines that addressing the court would not be in the child’s best interest. In that event, the court must state its reasons for denying the child the opportunity to express his/her preferences. A child can be under age 14 and still be allowed to address the court if the court determines it would be in the child’s best interest. It is important to remember that regardless of the age of the child, anytime a court gives a child the opportunity to share his/her wishes, the court is not required to fulfill those wishes. The court’s job is always to do whatever the court believes is best for the child.
For more information on Child Custody in CA an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (707) 900-4500 today.
Call Now To Get Started