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The “child’s best interest” standard

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2024 | Child Custody

The most important factor in contested child custody cases is the child’s best interest. However, parents and a California judge might have different views on what this constitutes. Accordingly, it is important for all involved to understand what is taken into account when determining what is in the child’s best interests.

The two types of custody

There are two forms of custody of a child. One type is legal custody, which determines who will make important decisions regarding the child’s life, such as medical and educational decisions. The other is physical custody, which determines with which parent the child will primarily live. The court might award a parent both legal and physical custody, but many times, custody will be mixed, such as both parents holding joint legal custody while only one parent has primary physical custody and the other visitation. To decide this, the court will consider what is in the child’s best interests.

Factors in determining what is in the child’s best interest

The court looks at many aspects of a child’s life before determining what the child’s best interests consist of. These include:

  • The child’s age and gender
  • The child’s preference about which parent they want to live with
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Each parent’s ability and capability to take care of their child
  • The physical and mental health of the child and each of the parents
  • A parent’s history of domestic or child abuse or substance addiction

Judges hold the child’s best interest standard to the utmost importance since they want to ensure that their decision is focused on providing the child with a safe, stable, supportive environment. It should be an environment where the child can be happy and thrive while continuing to develop physically and mentally.