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Various factors are considered with best interests of the child

When there is a divorce in California and the couple has children, child custody will inevitably be one of the biggest issues that must be considered. There can be frequent disputes regarding child custody and it is rife with emotions. Parents will want to maintain a relationship with children despite the end of a marriage and it is important to understand how the law decides on custody. A term commonly used is "best interests of the child." Knowing what that entails and other factors can be essential to a case.

The following will be considered as part of the process: how old the child is; his or her health status; the emotional connection between the parents and child; how adept the parents are at providing care for the child; if there are extenuating circumstances, such as substance abuse or violence; and if the child has ties to a school, the community or the home.

There may be a preconceived notion that the mother will almost always get custody. However, the court will not make this type of decision based on the parent's gender or the child's gender. Other factors that will not be considered include the couple not having gotten married, disabilities, religion or sexual orientation. For circumstances in which the child might be in danger if he or she is given to the parents, another person can be granted custody. This will be a "guardianship" and is for the child's safety and well-being.

Some parents can agree on a child custody arrangement on their own and do so amicably. Others are engaged in a contentious dispute throughout the process. It is important to remember that the best interests of the child should come to the forefront. Knowing what the courts will consider in this context may be integral to a child custody case.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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