Courts Must Consider the Child’s Best Interest When Making Custody & Visitation Decisions
When a Santa Clara County Family Court Judge makes a decision regarding custody and/or visitation of a child, the court is required to make a determination based on that child’s best interest. When making the “best interest” determination, the court can consider a wide variety of relevant factors. The court must, however, consider the child’s health, safety, welfare, any history of physical abuse, history of parental drug or alcohol abuse, stability and continuity of the child’s environment, as well as other factors.
When a court considers allegations of abuse in order to determine appropriate custody/visitation orders, the court will look at a parent’s history of domestic violence against the child or another person. “Abuse,” in this context, is defined by the California Family Code as “intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury or sexual assault, or placing another in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself, herself or another.”
A significant component of the “best interests” analysis includes the goal of protecting a stable custody schedule. When examining this factor, the court will look at any harm that may be caused by disrupting established patterns of care and emotional bonds with the primary caretaker.
Before a court considers allegations of drug or alcohol abuse by a parent in a child custody/visitation determination, the court may require independent corroboration. Independent corroboration may include reports from law enforcement agencies, courts, or other organizations. In addition, after following strict legal guidelines, a court may order a parent to undergo testing for illegal drugs or alcohol abuse.
For more information about all of the factors that a court will consider in determining what is in a child’s best interest in a child custody case, please contact our San Jose child custody attorneys at Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri. Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.