When getting a divorce, soon-to-be former couples have to figure out many big and small details before legally dissolving their marriage. Some couples will have an easier time ironing out these details than others. Those with children tend to have the most trouble, as coming to agreeable terms on child custody can be particularly challenging.
At the end of the day, there is really only one thing that matters in child custody cases — the best interests of the child. Some parents cannot agree on what that is. That is why the court will look at very specific factors to decide an appropriate custody order.
Factors used to determine child custody
There are several things the California courts will need to know to determine child custody. The list is fairly long, but some factors include:
- The physical and mental ability/health of each parent
- Living arrangements
- The child’s wishes
- The child’s age and sex
- A child’s special needs
- Available family and social support
- Parental history of drug, alcohol or physical abuse
A judge only knows what he or she sees on paper or hears from witnesses. The court considers so many factors because it is the only way to get a more accurate glimpse into a family’s life in efforts to make the best custody decision possible.
Does a judge get to decide custody in every divorce case?
While the court has to approve all custody orders before they can go into effect, no, a judge does not get to decide custody in every divorce case. If you and your ex can develop a custody plan that works for your family and meets the best interests of the child standard, the court is not likely to change the agreement you worked out.
You don’t have to figure it all out on your own
Figuring out child custody can prove difficult. While shared custody is the plan of choice these days, other custody options are available that may make more sense for your situation. Know that you do not have to go it alone when trying to work out an agreement you believe will best benefit your family. With help, you can achieve a custody plan that is sure to put your child’s needs first, with or without fighting the issue in court.