If you're going through a divorce, then you've likely heard your Riverside family court judge say they'll decide what's in the best interests of the child. While that sounds ideal, you may wonder what that means for your family in your specific circumstances. It's simply a way for the court to convey that visitation or custody decisions they make will take into account certain factors to make sure that the children remain safe.
Like family court judges all around the country, those in California generally weigh a multitude of factors when determining which parent is better suited to take care of their child.
A judge will generally want to know more about the parents before making decisions about visitation or custody. The court may seek information about the parents' physical and mental health, their cultural or religious affiliations and the stability of their home lives.
If a child has special needs, then the judge will generally try to ascertain if one of the parents has been primarily responsible for meeting those needs. They'll also look at the age and gender of the child, their relationship with other family members including grandparents and the child's degree of connection to their school.
Judges will also generally try to understand the family dynamic that formerly existed in the home. They'll probe any allegations of domestic violence and sexual or substance abuse that the child was forced to witness or be a participant. They'll likely ask each parent about their approach to disciplining their child as well.
The judge might ask questions to find out more about the current family dynamic at each parent's home. They'll also ask about existing supporting relationships with others in the home, whether they're siblings, stepparents or others.
If a child is old enough to voice their own opinion about custody preferences, then the judge may request that they do so in court.
The goal of the judge is to make sure that any parent to whom they award custody will continue to encourage their child to have open communication and a loving bond with their other parent. If you'd like to gain a better perspective on how you can demonstrate this to a judge, a child custody attorney who is intent on protecting you and your children can offer insight and clarity.