When a marriage comes to an end, parents will be faced with difficult and emotional decisions, among them, child custody. While some spouses are able to reach agreements on their own, issues of physical and legal custody are often among the most heavily disputed. However, an arrangement must be reached before a divorce can be finalized. When feelings of anger, distrust, or frustration complicate discussions and parents simply cannot agree, the matter will be left to a judge.
Determining the Best Interest of the Child
While ideologies such as the “tender years” doctrine may have prevailed in the past, now, California courts award custody based on the best interest of the child. This means that the arrangements which will see that children are best cared for will take precedent over parental preferences.
Additionally, as courts generally recognize that spending time with both parents can tremendously benefit a child’s development, there is a presumption to award joint custody whenever possible. In fact, sole custody agreements are typically only considered when a parent represents a direct danger to their child, such as in cases of domestic violence.
Factors a judge will consider when awarding custody can include:
- The age of the child
- If a child has siblings or step-siblings
- The emotional connection between each parent and the child
- The ability of each parent to provide financial support
- The post-divorce living situation of each parent
- Evidence of substance abuse or domestic violence
Legal Help for Child Custody Agreements
Every family will have a different story and the factors which a judge deems to be most important may vary in each case. Whether you are seeking joint custody or are looking to modify an existing agreement, securing the services of a knowledgeable attorney can help to ensure that your voice is heard in the courtroom. At the Edmunds Law Firm, we have been serving San Diego for more than 40 years and are well acquainted with its communities and courts.
Few experiences can be harder for a family than divorce, especially when children are involved. However, our San Diego family law attorneys can be in your corner, supporting you every step of the way.
Questions about your divorce? Call 800.481.2526 or contact us online and speak to a qualified attorney today.