What factors affect which parent gets legal custody of a child?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2023 | Child Custody

A physical custody arrangement is a legal agreement between two parents that details where a child lives after a divorce. However, legal custody determines which parent has authority over the child for religious training, health care, education and other issues.

A judge considers several factors when deciding whether one parent or both can share the final say in vital decisions about the child’s welfare.

The well-being of the child

The primary factor determining who receives legal custody is the child’s well-being. If the court decides that it is better for the child that only one parent has legal custody, then it will make that decision.

The court usually starts with the presumption that both parents have a right to custody and tries to create a joint arrangement. If parents can make an equitable parenting agreement independently, the court tends to favor that resolution.

Parental conduct and habits

Details about a parent’s character, such as whether a person has a criminal record or accusations of neglect, abuse or abandonment, can all play into this decision-making process. Additionally, substance abuse issues or participation in illegal activities can influence the court’s final ruling.

While the court reviews many considerations, California law ensures that religion, lifestyle, disability or sexual orientation are not discriminatory factors a judge can use to deny custody.

Ability to provide for the child’s needs

Another factor determining who receives legal custody of a child is which parent can provide for their needs. These needs include financial security, emotional stability and physical care.

Child custody rulings usually are not easy decisions. A judge tries to do what is in the interest of the child and even considers the child’s preference to try to make a wise decision.

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