When a married couple decides to part ways through divorce, the issue of child custody often takes center stage.
Many people wonder if, by default, the mother will gain custody of the children. While this assumption may have held true in the past, California law has evolved to ensure that custody decisions focus on the best interests of the child.
Legal standards for custody
California, like many other states, follows a legal standard that prioritizes the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. The courts do not favor one parent over the other based solely on their gender. Instead, they assess various factors to make a fair and informed decision. While 21% of children lived with their mother only in 2020, the number of children living with their father only has quadrupled to 4.5% in the past 50 years.
The best interests of the child
To decide what is in the best interests of the child, courts consider factors such as the child’s age, health, and emotional ties to both parents. They also examine each parent’s ability to provide a stable home, support the child’s needs and encourage a healthy relationship with the other parent.
The courts encourage parents to work together to create a parenting plan that outlines custody and visitation schedules. This collaborative approach allows parents to have more control over the outcome and find solutions that fit their unique circumstances. In cases where parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, mediation may be necessary. A neutral third party can assist in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. If mediation is unsuccessful, the court will step in to make the final decision.
By working together and considering the child’s best interests, parents can navigate the challenging terrain of divorce and custody arrangements.