Determining child custody: What you should know

While going through the divorce process may seem daunting, there are certain issues that may be more difficult to tackle than others. Child custody is one of those topics that can be extremely emotional. In many situations, parents want to spend as much time as possible with their children after the divorce, but the court must determine what is in the best interests of the children.

You may negotiate the details of child custody, visitation and a parenting plan through mediation or leave the final decision in the hands of the courts. Either way, it is essential to understand the details of the child custody process.

Types of custody

The court will determine whether sole physical custody or joint custody is best for the situation. With sole custody, the child lives primarily with one parent, while the other parent has visitation on a set schedule. Joint custody, on the other hand, allows shared parent time where each parent has almost equal amounts of time with the child. In addition, there is sole and joint legal custody, which dictates whether one or both parents can make legal decisions regarding the child’s education, religion and medical attention.

Custody factors

Since the court’s decision is based on the best interests of the child, it will use several factors when determining what type of custody to award. According to California state statutes, these include the following;

  • Whether domestic abuse was involved
  • The amount of time spent with each parent
  • The nature of the relationship between each parent
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • The environment the child would be living in with each parent

In some cases, older children can tell the court which parent they would rather reside with and what type of situation they believe would be best for them.

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