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What constitutes "best interest of the child" in child custody?

It is commonly known that "the best interest of the child" is the most important consideration of a California family court when decisions about child custody have to be made. However, some people are unsure of the factors that play a part in the court's considerations. While child custody laws vary in different states, there are some basic aspects of the family's life prior to divorce that may be scrutinized.

In addition to the ages of each child and the preferences of the parents, the court may also consider the wishes of children who are old enough to express their preferences. The physical and mental health of the parents and the children will play a part, along with any recorded evidence of neglect, abuse or domestic violence -- even if false allegations by one parent were recorded. The court may also learn a lot from the current relationship between all family members and their enthusiasm to encourage and maintain a continued parent-child relationship with both parents.

If the children have been in the care of one parent for most of the time, that parent may have an advantage. However, the capability of both parents to care for the children on their own, along with the living conditions of each home and each parent's capacity to provide a loving and stable home will be examined. The effect of disrupting current custody arrangements will be taken into account. Adapting to a new community, school and home may have detrimental effects on a child's emotional wellbeing.

Most California parents who are considering divorce want what is best for their children. However, the emotional roller-coaster of the divorce process may make it difficult to find mutual agreement on matters related to child custody. Many couples opt to use the services of a mediator who aims to guide parents toward agreements to suit both parties while not losing sight of the best interest of the children. A visit to our family law website will provide additional information about child custody issues.

Source: singleparents.about.com, "Factors Used to Determine the Custody of Children", Jennifer Wolf, Oct. 03, 2014

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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