The Guiding Principle in Custody Decisions by the Court
When parents are divorcing and child custody needs to be determined, there are many factors a judge must consider. The utmost guiding principle is the best interest of the child. This includes primarily the health, safety and welfare of the child and also the belief that a child will, in most cases, do best if he or she is encouraged to maintain good relationship with both parents. Being able to see both parents often, and on a continuing basis, is considered to be the best arrangement to ensure the a healthy, happy future for the child, even though the parents are ending their marriage.
That being said, each divorce and custody case is unique, and a judge will assess all factors of parenting by both parents. Not every parent lives up to the standards of a model parent and caregiver. A Modesto family law attorney can help make sure all relevant information is presented so the courts make the right decisions.
Child Custody Lawyer Serving Modesto, CA
While the courts will always attempt to grant equal custody, there are some circumstances that by law prevent that from occurring. An example is a parent who has committed a serious felony offense against the other parent. The law will not allow custody to be granted to the offender. The same would be true if one parent was convicted of specific physical or sexual child abuse.
On the other hand, if a parent has a verified history of abuse but no conviction, a judge can impose limited custody or visitation by that parent. Again, the best interest of the child, his safety and health, is the guiding principle. If a parent were known to be a habitual drug or alcohol abuser, a judge would be considering this factor when deciding on custody or visitation. An attorney with Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated is an asset in making sure the best solution in custody occurs.
Factors that Determine the Child's Best Interest
Sometimes a child has a preference as to which parent he or she wishes to have custody. A judge can consider the child's opinion if he feels the child is mature enough. It's more likely that an older child's preferences will be considered as opposed to a younger child, although there is no specific age specified by law.
Since courts are guided by the belief that a child has the best chance of a stable upbringing if he has equal contact with both parents when they are divorced, they are not happy when one parent seeks to subvert the child's relationship with the other parent. In fact, if a judge discovers that one parent knowingly engages in actions toward this end, he could impose limitations on custody or visitation of the parent who did this. If a judge must weigh in favor of one parent over another, it will be the one who actively promotes frequent contact with the other parent. A knowledgeable family lawyer knows how to represent his client most favorably to the courts.
When parents cannot agree on joint legal and physical custody, the court will do its best to administer the right decision based on all factors. The best decision will be that which brings about the most stable, caring environment for the child. If both parents request joint custody but the judge doesn't agree, he must defend his decision in writing.
Experienced Family Lawyers Are On Your Side
Custody issues can be very complex. Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated, in Modesto, Stockton, and Turlock, are excellent litigators who know family law. We steadfastly stand by our clients and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today to work with our divorce attorney in Modesto!