Parents in the Bay Area may feel like the greatest gift life gave them is their children. So, when they go through a divorce, they may be very concerned about the amount of time they will get to spend with their child, especially if they were not the child’s primary caretaker during the marriage.
However, it is important to note that in California, neither the father nor the mother is presumed to be the best parent to award custody to, no matter what the child’s age or sex is. Instead, the court will base child custody decisions on what is in the child’s best interests. There are a variety of factors the court will consider when making child custody decisions.
“Best interests of the child” factors
One factor is how old the child is and how healthy the child is. The emotional bond between each parent and the child may also be considered. Each parent’s ability to care for the child may be considered, as may any past instances of domestic violence or substance abuse. Finally, the child’s connection to their school home and community may be considered.
Presumptions and child custody
As this shows, neither mothers nor fathers will automatically be granted custody rights over their child. Moreover, a parent’s custody rights cannot be denied if the parent was never married to the child’s other parent. Also, custody rights cannot be denied just because one parent has a different lifestyle than the other parent, has a physical disability, practices a different religion or has a different sexual orientation. What matters is what is in the best interests of the child.
Discuss your child custody rights with a professional
Determining the best interests of the child can be complex, and both parents naturally want to make sure their child’s health and well-being is preserved while still being able to spend time with their child. For this reason, parents going through a divorce may want to discuss their situation with a professional to better understand their rights and options.