How California determines the “best interests of the child”

When California courts need to make determinations regarding child custody, they typically do so after taking into account what they call “the best interests of the child.” Ultimately, this means that, rather than prioritize a potential parent or guardian’s needs or desires, they instead prioritize the needs and desires of the child at the center of the proceedings and then make their decisions accordingly. At Viola Law Firm, we are well-versed in the various factors California’s court system considers when making determinations about child custody, and we have helped many people involved in custody disputes or similar situations pursue solutions that meet their needs. 

Per the website for California Legislative Information, anytime you find yourself embroiled in any type of custody case, you should expect the court to consider how a potential custody arrangement would impact a child’s safety, health and well-being. To do so, the court often considers whether any parent or alternatively, any person seeking custody, has any history of abusing the child, other children or anyone else with which that person had a caretaking, custodial or romantic relationship. 

A California court will typically also take into account whether a relationship already exists between the child at the center of the proceedings and the parent or other party pursuing custody. If it does, the courts may take a closer look at the relationship to determine if it is, in fact, a healthy and beneficial one. Courts will also typically consider whether each parent or party seeking custody has any history of abusing drugs or alcohol, and they may rely on documentation from local authorities, probation departments and similar sources to determine this. 

Depending on the age of the child at the center of custody proceedings, his or her own wishes and desires may, too, factor in when a court makes custody-related decisions. Learn more about child custody and related issues by visiting our webpage. 

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