What Judges Consider in Child Custody Cases

If you're a parent who is getting divorced, the simplest, most effective way to decide on child custody is to reach an agreement with your soon to be ex-spouse. However, life and divorce are rarely simple. If you're already concerned that your spouse isn't going to make this easy, then it's important that you learn what factors family law judges consider when decided on child custody.

If you and your spouse cannot reach a child custody agreement, the presiding judge will have to decide for you. Under Sec. 3040 of the Family Code, custody is granted based on the "best interests of the child."

Factors Considered by the Judge

Custody can be awarded to both parents jointly, or to either parent. When granting custody to either parent, the court shall consider a broad number of factors, including:

  • Child's age and health.
  • Child's emotional ties to each parent.
  • The age and health of both parents.
  • The financial resources of both parents.
  • Any history of domestic violence.
  • Any history of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Child's ties to school, friends, family, and the community.

Can my child choose at the age of 14?

This questions comes up a lot. Under Sec. 3042 (a), if a child is mature enough to state their preference regarding child custody and visitation, the court shall consider the child's wishes.

If the child is 14 years of age, the child may address the court regarding custody and visitation, however, a child who is younger may address the court as well if the court determines that it is appropriate and in the child's best interests.

While a child may be allowed to state their preferences, this is not an automatic guarantee that they can choose which parent they get to live with. Ultimately, the decision is up to the judge.

Looking for a Los Angeles child custody lawyer? Contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation with a compassionate member of our legal team!