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What does California law say about determining child custody?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2018 | Child Custody |

California child custody issues are rife with emotions. These matters can be complex and lead to disputes between the parties, with the child often becoming stuck in the middle. Of course, there are some situations in which the parties can come to an agreeable resolution. In any case, the best interests of the child are the most pressing concern and, from the start, everyone involved should bear that in mind. It is also important to understand California law regarding what the court will consider when making child custody decisions.

The court will take into consideration which parent will grant the other parent contact with the child on a frequent and continuing basis. A parent’s gender will not be a preferential factor with the decision the court makes. Many parents are concerned about a hot button issue in today’s world: immigration status. The law states that the immigration status of a parent, legal guardian or a relative will not be a disqualifying factor when custody is determined. The court will be allowed to decide if there should be sole custody, joint physical custody or joint legal custody. There is no preference nor is there a presumption that any one option is better than the other. The main, relevant factor is the child’s best interests.

Some cases have situations in which the child has more than two parents. If that is the case, the court will again look at the child’s best interests and allocate custody and visitation accordingly. Stability and continuity for the child along with the bonds he or she might have established will be a vital consideration. It is up to the court to decide if there should be legal or physical custody for all parents. If it is not in the child’s best interests, the court is not required to grant it.

When parents part ways, either through a break-up or divorce, maintaining a healthy relationship with their child is critical. Understanding what is considered when a decision on custody and visitation is made can help the parents prepare their case. Parents can attempt to settle their child custody issues out-of-court through negotiations, but sometimes it is necessary to turn to the court for a decision on child custody and visitation. In the end, it is important that no matter how a resolution is reached, that the resolution meets the child’s best interests.

Source:, “Chapter 2. Matters To Be Considered in Granting Custody — 3040.,” accessed on April 3, 2018


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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