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How are the best interests of the child determined in California?

When child custody issues are negotiated and decided upon in California, what is in the best interests of the child is the main consideration used to determine child custody. If you are involved in child custody negotiations in California, you may wonder how the best interests of the child are determined.

In California, the primary concern when determining child custody is what is in the best interests of the child. You may or may not be aware that the best interests of the child is the standard utilized to determine child custody issues in California but how are the best interests of the child determined? In general, a number of different factors are utilized in California to determine what is in the best interests of the child.

To determine what is in the best interests of the child several factors are considered including the age of the child; the preference of the child if the child is of suitable age to express a meaningful preference; the child's adjustment to the child's current home, school and community; the length of time and adequacy of the child's current living environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity of the child's living environment; and the stability of the proposed living environment for the child.

In addition, to determine what is in the best interests of the child as it relates to child custody, the relationship of the child's parents, and other individuals that may have a significant impact on the child's welfare, is considered in addition to the ability of each of the child's parents to permit and encourage continued and frequent contact between the child and the child's other parent; the motivation and capacity of the parties to provide the child with love, affection and guidance; the capacity of the parents to cooperate concerning childcare; methods to assist the parents in cooperation and resolving disputes and the likelihood the parents will use these methods; the impact of one parent having sole authority concerning the child's upbringing; and any history of domestic violence.

Finally, additional factors that have a reasonable impact on the physical and psychological well-being of the child may also be considered. The list of factors that are considered may be long because of the importance of determining what is in the best interests of the child which can help focus parents as it also focuses the court's thinking when resolving child custody concerns and disputes in California.

Source: Superior Court of California County of Placer, "The Best Interest of the Child," Accessed April 24, 2016

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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