How Child Custody Is Determined

Child custody proceedings can be complex, and many factors can influence the outcome of the final determination. The court may take into account both parent's living situation, the child's age and, in some cases, the child's preferences. However, the most important factor is the child's best interests.

If you are involved in a child custody case, our team at Rombro & Manley LLP can guide you through the legal process and help you understand how child custody decisions are made.

We encourage you to contact our Manhattan Beach, California, attorneys online or call us at 310-545-1900 to schedule your consultation.

Important Factors To Consider

While the child's best interests are the primary determining factor, there are a number of other elements that the court will take into consideration when establishing a child custody agreement. Obvious factors, such as a history of abuse, or even allegations of abuse, as well as alcohol or drug use by either parent will affect the final outcome. In addition, the court may consider each parent's living situation, the child's age and the ability of both parents to cooperate.

Living situation

Typically, in divorce or separation cases, one parent remains in the family home, while the other parent must establish a new residence. It is important that your new residence is safe, and provides adequate living space for you and your children. A residence that is closer to your family's home or your children's school can also improve the likelihood of shared custody, as the child will be able to maintain their schooling and social life without major disruptions.

The child's age

In the state of California, children over the age of 14 may make their preferences known to the court and the court is required to take these preferences into consideration. Younger children sometimes spend more time with the "primary caretaker," which falls on the parent who performs most of the essential daily duties, including bathing, meal planning and arranging for health care. It is extremely important to establish a schedule in child custody cases involving unmarried parents.

Cooperation between the parents

You should maintain civility with your co-parent whenever possible to protect your child's emotional well-being. You should not speak ill of the other parent in front of your child or attempt to alienate your child from the other parent in any way. These actions can impact the court's perception of you and influence the final agreement. More importantly, these actions harm your child.

Additional considerations

In some cases involving unmarried couples, the mother is awarded sole physical custody unless the father is actively involved with the child. While it is unlikely the father will be awarded sole custody if the mother is a good parent, he can gain joint custody and/or visitation rights. it is important to establish paternity early on to protect your paternal rights if you are unmarried.

While the child's best interests are the primary determining factor, there are a number of other elements that the court will take into consideration when establishing a child custody agreement.

Who Determines Custody?

Parents who are cooperative can often make custody decisions together, with the help of their lawyers, mediators or counselors. It is important to remember that you have a say in your child custody proceedings. If you can work together to create a fair parenting plan that keeps your child's best interests in mind, you can avoid litigation and maintain control over your family's future.

Learn More Today

If you are involved in difficult child custody proceedings, it is important to work with an attorney who will protect your family's best interests.

Contact our law office online or call 310-545-1900 to schedule a consultation with Rombro & Manley LLP and learn more about our family law services. We would be happy to address any and all of your questions.