How is a judge likely to determine child custody?

Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada LLP

The overriding standard in determining who children will live with if their parents’ divorce is what is in their best interests. This yardstick to determine child custody may seem confusing, so it may be wise for those in California to know how a family court judge may look at things. Generally, there are common things in all states a judge will consider.

Some factors used to establish custody

Here are some of the things a family court judge will likely consider:

  • The age of the child: Younger children may need more one-on-one care. A judge will also take into consideration who has been the child’s main caregiver;
  • Parenting ability: Can each person meet the needs of the child both physically and emotionally and provide the necessities of life like shelter, food, clothing, health care, education, etc.?
  • Consistency in routine: Children don’t like change, but thrive on routine, so a judge may look at the consistency of living arrangements, school, visiting with family members, etc.
  • How changing an existing routine might impact the child;
  • Safety: A judge won’t grant custody to a parent if he or she believes the child’s safety will be compromised.

Judges like to stick with routines that are familiar to children. If relocation is on the table, a parent will have to show the judge why it may be best for a child. By the same token a judge realizes it is usually best for a child to have a relationship with both parents as long as violence isn’t present.

When a judge is determining child custody, it can be an emotionally fraught time for parents. A California parent in this situation may find the process less stressful with the advice of a lawyer. It may be the best step a parent can take to get through proceeding.

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