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'Best interests of the child' applies in custody determinations

Child custody and visitation issues can, at times, lead to contentious disputes in family court. Parents who love their kids may quarrel over how the children should be raised. But, that kind of dispute is not confined to the family court. Certainly, many parents quarrel over how to raise the kids.

An East Coast judge recently made a child custody decision in the divorce of a couple who reportedly had quarreled throughout their marriage. While the story arises from the East Coast, the judge made the ruling based upon the best interests of the child. Generally, custody issues are considered under the best interests standard, but in everyday life, that standard may be difficult to grasp.

In California, custody and visitation issues are governed under the best interests concept. Money itself is not the deciding factor under the best interests of the child. Many factors come into play.

In the recent East Coast dispute, the mother argued in family court that she should have sole custody. She says that her estranged husband's behavior raised worries over the safety of the child (the couple had one son together). The mother had sought a protective order against the father; he also sought a protective order against the mother. Each request was denied by the court.

A newspaper article suggests that the judge initially leaned toward granting the mother sole custody. Although the protective orders were not granted, the judge found that the couple had quarreled for much of their time together. But, the judge noted that during the 13-month separation preceding the child custody ruling, the parents were able to communicate with each other concerning their son.

The judge found that granting sole custody of the child to either parent essentially would punish the son. In the end the court awarded joint legal and physical custody to the parents.

Each contested divorce is unique to the facts of the people involved. Courts use standards, such as the best interests of the child, in order to analyze how the facts work under the law. A family law attorney can help an individual in navigating through the complex issues and standards that apply under California family law.

Source: Carroll County Times, "Legal Matters: Child custody case offers insight on the motive of judges," Donna Engle, April 28, 2013