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How is custody decided in California divorces?

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2020 | Family Law

Divorce is difficult for any couple who goes through it, but it is particularly agonizing for parents. Whether you and your spouse are going through an amicable or contentious divorce, you will likely worry about how often you will see your children afterward. You may worry that, due to your schedule or aggravating factors, your time with them will be minimal. In most cases, though, California courts favor plans that allow both parents to play an active role in their children’s lives.

Approaches to working out custody

You and your spouse may be on the same page about custody and parenting. Or, you two may be able to cooperate about any differences you have. In these cases, you have the option of working out your custody arrangement on your own. Yet, you two may disagree about custody matters. If your divorce is litigated, the court will likely order you to resolve your disagreements in mediation. In California, the court will hear your custody case in the event mediation fails, or if it is impossible.

Factors that affect custody in California

No matter how you resolve custody matters, your arrangement must reflect your children’s best interests. In California, these are based on:

  • Your children’s safety, welfare and well-being
  • Whether you or your spouse have a history of substance abuse
  • Whether you or your spouse have a history of abuse
  • Your children’s relationship with you and your spouse
  • Any allegations of abuse or substance abuse made against you or your spouse

California law presumes that joint custody is in your children’s best interests, so long as you and your spouse agree to it. Yet, you or your spouse might have a history of substance abuse or domestic violence. It is unlikely, then, that whichever of you does you will receive custody of your children. In this instance, supervised visitation may be the only appropriate option. Furthermore, you may have a job that requires you to work long hours or requires frequent travel. In this case, it may make more sense if your spouse is your children’s custodial parent, though you will still receive visitation.

The final custody arrangement set forth in your parenting plan must reflect your family’s unique circumstances. If you have concerns about the share of custody you will receive, a family law attorney can help you protect your parental rights.