Marriage and divorce are both common experiences. While most marriages are happy and last a lifetime, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States get divorced. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. Divorce proceedings may involve only the spouses, unless they have young children. In such cases, determining who gets custody of the children can become an ugly battle that most often needs to be resolved in the family court system.
What Is Child Custody?
Under most circumstances, state laws provide that parents should make decisions that involve raising their own children. However, when there is a disagreement about which parent has the right to make important child rearing decision (such as during divorce proceedings), then family courts will determine custody.
Like most states, California’s Family Law Code is the standard under which child custody decisions are made in the overall best interest of the child. Family Code Section 3011 ensures that the decisions are made with an emphasis on assuring that the child’s “health, safety, and welfare,” and “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents absent child abuse, domestic violence, or where the contact would not be in the best interest of the child.
Factors Affecting the Court’s Child Custody Decision
A common question that arises during divorce proceedings is who should get custody of the children. If the biological parents cannot amicably make the decision, the court will step in. It should be noted that child custody may be petitioned by not only the biological parents, but others who believe that they can provide suitable care and guidance for the child, such as grandparents, stepparents and aunts anduncles. When making a decision as to who should be granted custody, the Family Court will consider various factors.
The courts look to the factors provided under California Family Code Section 3040 to make their child custody decision. According to this code section, child custody should be granted in an order of preference and according to the best interest of the child. The court first looks to grant custody to both parents jointly or to either parent before looking to others. This parenting arrangement decision is made on a case‐by‐case basis.
If neither parent is deemed fit to be granted with custody, the court then may look to the person with whom the child has been living and the stability of that environment. Next, the court looks to any individual who is deemed to be able to provide appropriate care for the child. Regardless of whom the court chooses, it will make sure the decision is made in the overall best interests and welfare of the child.
Call an Experienced Stockton Family Law Attorney
If you are involved in a custody battle, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law attorney to help you learn your legal rights and options with respect to your child custody and visitation rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Stockton family law attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323‐5558 or (559) 449‐1447, or complete our online form.