Divorce proceedings are emotional enough for the two parties involved but when you add kids into the mix, the process becomes even more heartwrenching. In the realm of family law, when child custody discussions are taking place during a divorce procedure, it usually refers to physical custody as in who will the child live with on a permanent basis.
In California, the judge takes into consideration what is best for the child, but there is often a disconnect between the judge, the child’s wishes, and the divorcing couple. The judge only takes into consideration information that is heard in court during the litigation for child custody. The judge doesn’t make house calls or spends adequate time with the family to see what really is in the best interest of the child. This is why it’s not only imperative but also mandatory to have an experienced San Diego child custody lawyer by your side. A child custody attorney will have connections to Family Court Services mediators, custody evaluators and be able to present the reasons why you deserve custody clearly and concisely to the judge giving you the best fighting chance to receive physical custody of your children.
Determining Child Custody in California
Under California’s family Law Code 3011, the best interests of the child are determined by the following set of criteria:
- The health, safety and overall welfare of the child
- Any history of abuse by one parent
- The nature and amount of contact with both parents
- The habitual or continual illegal use of controlled substances
There are cases in which there is joint physical of the custody, but the best interest of the child is used to determine who will be the primary physical custodian of the child while the other parent is granted visitation rights. If they cannot agree on a visitation schedule, parents are encouraged to attend a mediation at the Family Court with a judge to determine a schedule that has the child’s best interests in mind. The primary physical custodian might also be entitled to receive child support from the other parent as well.
What About Legal Custody?
Legal custody is the right to make decisions about a child’s life including but not limited to healthcare, safety, overall welfare, religion, and education. In most instances, both parents share joint legal custody of the child.
Does My Child Need To Be Involved?
Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding maybe. It’s very rare that a child will testify in open court. However, this is a chance that they will be interviewed by a court-appointed Family Court Services counselor. This mostly depends on the age of the child. If the child is fourteen or older and expresses interest in voicing their opinion to the judge, they might be permitted to do so. However, the judge retains the right to not listen to the child if they feel it’s not in the child’s best interest. Children under the age of 14 may or not be interviewed by a counselor. The counselor’s goal is to learn about the relationship between the child and his or her parents, his or her quality of life at each parent’s home, as well as his or her desire for physical custody.
Contact Our Child Custody Lawyers in San Diego Today!
If you are going through divorce proceedings and wish to seek custody of your child, contact one of our San Diego child custody attorneys today. We represent mothers, fathers, and non-parents such as step-parents in child custody, child support, and child visitation proceedings. Our goal to keep the best interests of the child as well as meet your goal to ensure an easy transition into this new chapter of your life.