What are the Best Interests of the Child?
Child custody adds an additional layer of complexity and stress to a family law proceeding. California courts encourage parents to come up with a custody and visitation schedule that works for their unique circumstances; however, if the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the judge assigned to the case will make the determination for them. In order to do so, the judge must take into consideration what is in the best interests of the child or children. If you would like to learn more about what the court considers when making this determination, call or contact the Simpson Law Group in Glendale today to schedule a consultation.
When Does the Court Use the Best Interests Standard?
The court uses the best interests of the child standard when determining specific issues pertaining to a child in a divorce or family law case. The most common use of the best interests analysis is when parents cannot agree on the terms of an initial custody and visitation schedule. The best interests standard can also be applied when one parent wishes to relocate to a different city, state or country with the parties’ minor child or children.
Guiding Principles of Best Interest
A judge utilizing the best interests of the child standard in California must keep two guiding principles in mind when determining what is in a child’s best interest. First and foremost, the court’s primary concern is the child’s health, safety, and welfare. The second is that children often benefit from frequent and continuing contact with both parents. So long as the court keeps these guiding principles in mind, it can consider almost any factor it deems relevant to determining what decision is in a child’s best interest.
Factors the Court May Consider
Because the best interests of the child standard is relatively broad in California, there are several factors the court may consider when making this determination. Some of the most common factors include the following:
- Each parent’s stability, including emotional and mental stability
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child
- Each parent’s willingness to communicate and encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
- Any history of substance abuse
- Any history of mental illness
- Any history of domestic or sexual abuse, either against the child or another household member
- Either parent’s criminal history
- The child’s preference, given their age and maturity level
- The child’s relationship to their school, community, and home
- Each parent’s current living situation
Call Our Office
To learn more about what the court might consider when determining the best interests of your child, call or contact the Simpson Law Group today to schedule a consultation.