San Diego, CA – When ruling on child custody cases, California courts take several factors into account, but it all boils down to what your child wants and needs.
The Best Interest of the Child
A judge’s first consideration is termed “the best interest of the child.” This encompasses your child’s age and health; emotional bonds between each parent and child; each parent’s fitness as a caretaker; history of abuse or neglect; and your child’s ties to school, home, and community. Since California does not automatically award custody to the child’s mother or father, the above factors are heavily weighed. The ultimate goal is placing your child or children in the most ideal care possible. However, the situations below would likely result in the loss of your or the other parent’s custody.
Abuse of Any Type or False Allegations
Be it physical, verbal, or emotional; abuse exists in many forms. If the abuse is directed toward either you or your child, it can be solid grounds for revoking or denying custody. If possible, keep a record of all evidence of instances where the child’s other parent was abusive. Verbal attacks in the courtroom, on the phone, or online may also constitute abuse. Additionally, false allegations of child abuse can be cause for losing custody. Make sure you share this information with your family law attorney, as it can play a critical role in determining custody.
Drug or Criminal Charges
As the child’s wellbeing is always the top concern in custody cases, a judge may deem a parent with unaddressed drug issues to be unfit for parenting until rehabilitation is complete. On a related note, any outstanding criminal charges raise a red flag in the courtroom; if the other parent is facing a jail sentence, that would affect his or her ability to care for your child.
You and Your Child’s Community
Though the mother is often seen as fulfilling the role of primary caregiver, this may not always be the case. The court will view you favorably, regardless of your gender, if you are the primary caregiver for your child. Moreover, involvement in your child’s community is key. If one parent hasn’t made an effort to attend parent-teacher nights and extracurricular events, this may show the judge that they are not the best choice for sole or primary custody. In severe cases, neglect could also rule out custody. Finally, if teachers, counselors, or social workers hear anything negative about your child’s quality of life – especially if abuse is suspected—they have an obligation to report this information to authorities.
The bottom line is to be involved and supportive in your child’s life, ensuring that he or she has the best living environment possible.
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