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California divorce attorneyChild custody is often an issue of paramount importance in Bay Area divorce proceedings. While each parent may already have secured stability in terms of career, health, and future plans, a child, especially if young, is still developing intellectually, physically, and emotionally. When parents divorce, the impact on these areas of a child’s development can have both short-term and long-term effects. For this, courts in California do not rely on a default framework with regard to child custody.

In other words, rather than automatically awarding custody of a child to the mother or father based on a single reason, the court considers what is in the best interests of the child. In this consideration, courts evaluate several primary factors related to the child’s wellbeing and environment. A skilled Los Gatos child custody attorney is well acquainted with these factors and how California courts weigh them.

Age, Health, Emotional Ties, and Parental Ability Are Among the Relevant Child Custody Factors in California

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California custody lawyerIf you and your ex cannot agree on a child custody schedule, a court will get involved to make one. When making this determination, California law instructs that courts must consider the best interest of the child.

This means that the desires of the parents are not given much weight, except as to how they relate to the child’s best interest. Also, it should be noted that this calculus is related only to physical custody not legal custody. Legal custody refers to the rights of the parents to make all critical decisions that affect the child's life.

The law further outlines what factors should be weighed in deciding what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Your Campbell family law attorney can discuss the specific circumstances in your case, but generally, these factors include:

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California divorce lawyer, California family law attorneyAs parents, we try to do everything in our power to protect our children. In California state law, the determination of custody and visitation schedule revolves solely on what is in the best interest of the child. However, past a certain age, the child begins to have a significant amount more weight in the decision-making process, especially when it comes to child custody and visitation.

When the Child Decides

As parents, we know what is best for our children. However, there comes the point in their life when they begin to have wants, needs, and opinions that may differ from ours. It is a part of the growing up process, and our children will inevitably reach this point as we did with our parents. That age is different for each person, so who determines at what age this is an age appropriate decision? A few years ago, California resolved the dispute by setting guidelines for which to follow. According to California Family Code 3042, consideration will be given to the preferences of the child if:

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California mediation attorney, California divorce lawyerDivorce is emotional and stressful for everyone in the family, children included. Many times, children internalize their emotions and wrongfully blame themselves for the divorce. Thoughts such as, “I was bad, so my parent left us” or “They did not love me anymore either” race through their still forming minds. As adults, we know better, but it is tough for children to comprehend that the decision did not come as a result of anything they did, or did not, do. Additionally, if you share an infant child, the first year is imperative for long-term bonding. New studies show that overnight stays for children whose parents are divorced have essential benefits, leading many parents to change their child custody arrangements.

Old Beliefs

For a substantial length of history, it was the idea that younger children, especially under the age of two, suffer emotional damage by staying overnight with noncustodial parents. Psychologists believed that this time apart leads to the breakdown of consistency, trust, and security leading to irreparable harm to the parent-child relationship. Researchers concluded that infants and toddlers needed to understand that you were there for them, every time, without question to build a healthy and lasting bond. They thought that a routine of sleeping in the same place every night with the same routine built trust and a sense of security, promoting better sleeping habits and enhancing self-soothing capabilities.

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