Child custody process is generally very emotionally driven and can be one of the most stressful aspects of a family law case. Although you can regain lost assets, you can never regain time lost with your child. This is why it is important to have an experienced Central Valley child custody attorney on your side during a child custody process.
Understanding the California Child Custody Law
California law was designed in a manner to favor both parents to retain custody of their children. However, child custody arrangements must be made in a way that can work for both parents and both must agree on. This agreement is commonly referred to as a parenting plan.
In the event that both parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the judge will first send them to mediation to see if they can come to a resolution. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the court will schedule a court hearing to determine the children’s best interests, including devising a custody and visitation schedule.
How Courts Determine the Best Interest of Children in a Child Custody Battle
California Family Code § 3011 sets forth the factors courts must consider when deciding on the course of action that is in the “best interest of the child.” These include:
- Health and safety of the child
- History of abuse by either parent
- Nature and frequency of contact between the child and both parents
- Use of controlled substances, alcohol, or prescription drugs by either parent
A court may ultimately decide that granting custody to a parent would be detrimental to the child. In such cases CA Fam Code § 3041 provides that:
- Allegations of detriment shall not appear in the pleadings
- The court may exclude the public from the hearing on this issue
- While clear and convincing evidence (meaning, more than “mere” preponderance of evidence) is generally required, a finding of detriment to the child is distinguished and separate from finding that a parent is unfit
The court also has discretion in ordering a parent to submit to drug or alcohol testing. However, the results of these tests must be kept confidential, sealed, and cannot be the sole basis for child custody award. Furthermore, the law prohibits courts from giving a parent preference due to their sex or immigration status.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Child Custody Attorney
If you are involved in a child custody battle or simply have questions regarding child custody, it is important that you have a knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley child custody attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or complete our online form.