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November 17, 2017
Primary custody in California: A primer

In California, child custody is one of the single biggest issues that couples face in a divorce. Reaching a satisfactory arrangement regarding custody is rarely easy, particularly when one or both parents are fighting for primary custody of their children.

To better understand primary custody in California, take a look at some of these major factors that courts consider when granting primary custody.

The best interests of the children

The family court system is very concerned with protecting the best interests of the children in cases of divorce. Even the most amicable of divorces can take a serious emotional toll, and most courts seek to mitigate the damage inflicted on a child. The court will almost certainly consider the best option for the child when it comes to which parent gets primary custody.

Other factors

Other main points for primary custody arrangements include:

  • The age of the child or children
  • The children’s physical, emotional and psychological health
  • The emotional bond between the parents and the child
  • A parent’s physical, emotional and financial ability to care for the child
  • Any instances of domestic abuse
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Location of the parents in relation to the child’s school
  • The children’s ties to school, religious institutions, community, friends and other family members

Factors that do not count

California courts do not necessarily favor the mother or father in a child custody case. The court also does not award custody based on the gender of the parents or children; for example, the mother will not automatically be granted custody of a female child, nor the father granted custody of a male child.

Other factors like marital status, disability, sexual orientation, religion and lifestyle are also not bases on which to grant or withhold custody.

Third party custody

In some situations, the court may decide that neither parent is a suitable custodian for the child. In these cases, a third party such as another family member or friend could be granted primary custody.

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