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California Child Custody and Visitation Laws: Understanding Factors Used by Family Court Judges

Posted on in Child Custody and Visitation

Of all the family law issues, those involving child custody are often the most difficult and inflammatory. This is especially true in situations where abuse, neglect, and/or parental alienation exist. There are, however, considerations that family court judges use to help determine child custody, even in the most difficult of divorces and custody battles. It is important to understand what these factors are, how they may apply to your particular situation, and where to best find help if you are concerned about your child custody case.

Possible Custody Arrangements

Whether the parents of a child are divorcing or unwed, matters of child custody are determined by a California family law judge. The judge examines evidence presented by both parents and/or their attorneys. However, all custody cases start with the presumption that joint custody – or the equal involvement of both parents – is in the child’s best interest. If it is determined that this is not the most suitable arrangement, other custody arrangements may be considered, including:

  • Custody with or without visitation rights – One parent may be deemed more suitable to provide regular, daily care to the child. Depending on the circumstances, this parent may be expected to provide the non-custodial parent visitation rights or opportunities;
  • Non-parental custody – In some cases, the child is not living with either parent but is in a stable and wholesome environment. Depending on the circumstances, the judge may decide that this environment is preferable to living with either parent;
  • And assignment of a suitable custodian – If the child is living with one or both parents and the judge determines that neither parent is capable of providing a stable or wholesome environment, the courts may award custody to another person that does not yet have the child living with them.

Factors Used to Determine Child Custody

Child custody is determined based upon certain factors outlined within the California Family Code. These considerations may include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • The general health and welfare of the child;
  • Evidence or history of physical or sexual abuse against the child;
  • Evidence of child neglect;
  • Parental history of violent crimes; and
  • Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse.

Negotiating Child Custody Issues Outside of Court

Most family court judges would prefer that parents work out a custody arrangement on their own prior to any hearings. Mediation and other resources, such as assistance from a skilled family law attorney, may be able to help parents attain this seemingly lofty goal. Regardless, all parents should be adequately represented during custody battles to ensure their rights and the best interest of their children are protected.

At the Ventresca Law Firm, we strongly believe that the needs of children should be put first and foremost in custody cases. As dedicated advocates, we work hard to help families resolve their custody issues with as little strife as possible, giving their children a better chance at a peaceful and favorable resolution. Schedule a free initial consultation with our experienced San Jose, California child custody attorneys to learn more. Call 408-395-8822 today.




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Los Gatos, CA 95030

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