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Understanding the factors that go into child custody decisions

Children are often at the center of the most contentious and emotional disputes that arise when a California couple parts ways. The decision as to where the child will reside the bulk of the time and how child custody and parenting time will be accorded can be a complex matter. Understanding how the courts will determine where the child will live is essential. There are many different factors that go into the decision, and parents and others who might want to have a say in the child's future must be aware of them.

The best interests of the child are the foundation upon which the court will make its decision. Since a child will be affected by the living arrangements, the court will examine how the child will be best served and use that as a significant part of its decision-making process. The court will also weigh multiple factors including the following: the child's age; his or her health; if there are parent-child emotional ties; if the parents can care for the child in a financial, emotional and physical sense; if there are links to a certain school or community; and if there is a history of problems such as abuse or substance issues with one or both parents.

There is not an automatic decision on child custody or parenting time. Contrary to popular belief, the mother does not "always" get custody. The individual circumstances will be the determinative factor in where the child will live as his or her primary residence. The courts will not take a person's marital status, if they have a physical disability, their lifestyle, religious affiliation or sexual orientation into account.

When there is a child custody or parenting time dispute or the parents are simply seeking a fair resolution to their case, a legal professional is vital. Calling a lawyer who has experience in all areas of child custody and parenting time can help with negotiations, heading to court and any other factor that comes up. Parents who are seeking child custody or parenting time should have legal help.

Source: FindLaw, "Primary Child Custody Factors in California," accessed on March 6, 2018

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