How A Child Custody Case is Evaluated in California

How A Child Custody Case is Evaluated in California

When sitting down with a qualified California child custody lawyer to look over your custody case, there are certain facts that they will seek to uncover.

They will look at the following items:

  • Any evidence of neglect or abuse
  • The history of the relationship between the parents and children
  • Hugely significant issues that could arise regarding the child's safety, education, health, or general well-being
  • Current condition of the status quo custody arrangement
  • The child's best interests

Before stepping in front of a family law judge, it is important to realize that these factors will absolutely be put into consideration throughout the duration of your custody case.

Looking at the Status Quo Custody Arrangement

The status quo arrangement consists of whatever the current custody and visitation schedule is that the parents and children are already abiding by. If the current custody and visitation agreement is working out well for the family, the judge may use this as the basis for future custody orders. This does not necessarily mean that the judge will automatically keep the custody arrangement as is, but they will need good reasoning as to why they should change anything.

What does this mean for custodial and noncustodial parents?

  • Custodial—Look at your current custody schedule and consider whether or not it is working well. Perhaps you need to advocate for some modification to the current status quo.
  • Noncustodial—Be ready to present to the court various reasons why the current status quo is not in alignment with the child's best interests. Realize that noncustodial parents have just as much of a right to modification as custodial parents, in most cases.

Two Exceptions to Status Quo in California

There are two items that the family law judge cannot attempt to use against either parent when looking at the current status quo arrangement.

  1. Military Service Member
    If one of the parents has been absent or has failed to comply with a custody order due to active military service, the judge cannot make a modification to the custody arrangement based solely on this fact alone. They may make a temporary modification If necessary, but it will be reviewed upon the soldier's return.
  2. Temporary Absence/Relocation
    The judge may not take into consideration temporary relocation or absence by one parent when creating a custody arrangement, as long as the following is true:
    • The separation from the family was only for a short amount of time
    • The parent demonstrated a desire to remain in contact with the child, to maintain custody or visitation, and that they do not display tendencies of wanting to abandon the child

For more information on child custody and divorce laws in California, call Orange County child custody lawyer, Douglas McKeague, at (714) 888-4830. Fill out our free case evaluation form today!

Additional resources on California's child custody & visitation laws can be found on the California Courts website.

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