What constitutes the best interests of the child standard in a San Diego parenting case? Why is it important to understand this central guiding principle of California family law?
When parents are working on child custody and parenting time plans or a Family Court Judge is asked to consider any interest involving a minor child the primary legal guiding principle of the best interests of the child standard must be applied. Generally speaking, there are a multitude of factors which go into an evaluation of what is in the best interests of the child. These include but are not limited to:
- The age of the child
- Health of the child and their parent(s)
- Emotional connection between the child and their parent(s)
- The connection of the child to their school, friends, activities, religious practices, extended family and community
- Any special needs which apply to the child
- Any history of abuse or domestic violence
- Alcoholism or drug abuse by a parent
The Court will usually hear the perspective of a child and can assign any amount of weight or credibility to their request or testimony as their age or maturity suggests.
The best interests of the child standard is applied to every case regarding child custody or parenting time during or after a divorce. California family law does not provide any additional weight or presumption which differentiates the rights of the married or previously married mother or father of a child. It is commonly accepted that it is in the best interests of a child to spend roughly equal quality time with each parent in the absence of abuse or the risk of harm to the child.
It is important to note that an unmarried father does not have the same rights to custody and parenting time of a child unless and until the father asserts these rights in a legal process to establish “paternity.”
If you are involved in any legal matter involving a child or children such as a move away or relocation case, parenting time, child custody, paternity or child support you must focus upon the best interests of the child standard under California family law.