California family law courts use a legal standard known as the “best interest of the child” when determining child custody and visitation. The best interest of the child standard requires evaluation of several factors including the nature and amount of contact with both parents, but the primary factor is the child’s health, safety, and welfare.
The California legislature declared years ago that it is public policy to ensure that each child’s health, safety, and welfare, including protection from child abuse and domestic violence in a child’s residence, should be the court’s primary concern in child custody awards. It should be applied when determining the child’s best interests regarding physical or legal custody and visitation orders. This policy is codified in CA Family Code section 3020(a).
Although every family has different circumstances, there are some basic requirements that every parent must provide for their child. The first one relates to the health of the child. The courts will examine any and all factors relating to the health of the child.
- Is your child healthy or sick?
- Do you provide the child with proper nourishment or are they suffering from malnourishment?
- Is your child receiving required health-care check-ups based on their specific needs?
- Are there any learning disabilities or health issues that need to be addressed?
The answers to these questions will help the court determine which parent is better able to ensure that the child receives healthcare and maintains their health. This is also the best time for your custody attorney up any and all issues relating to the child’s health.
The second consideration by the court relates to the child’s safety in all respects, at school and at home. These issues often come up if the child is being bullied at school or there are claims of child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, psychological) by any parent, step-parent or other person. The family court will need to determine which parent is best suited to address and resolve these issues.
Thirdly, courts look at various factors to determine what is best for the emotional welfare of the child and other factors that aid in the child’s emotional welfare. For example, the court will review factors associated with maintaining the child’s religious beliefs, maintaining the child’s emotional stability and psychological stability. And again, they will make a determination based on which parent is best suited to fulfill the child’s emotional welfare.
In summary, California family courts will consider any and all factors to make a legal determination of what is in your child’s best interests. Understanding the family court’s legal standard in a custody case will help you feel more confident throughout the custody process. The outcome of a custody case will depend on how you present the facts and evidence to the court. Call a California family law attorney at (916) 250-1610 to discuss any issues and challenges relating to your child custody and visitation case.