Child custody and visitation issues are often the most contentious and stressful issues considered during a divorce or legal separation. There are two areas of custody which must be resolved. Legal Custody deals with the rights and responsibilities to make decisions relating to the health, education and welfare of the children. Physical Custody (also known as “visitation”) deals with how much time each parent will have with the children.
Child Custody is most often considered by the best interest of the children. When the issue of child custody arises during a divorce or separation proceeding, the court takes a variety of factors into consideration. While every custody case is unique, what the court determines is in the “Best Interest of the Children” is the most decisive factor in determining a child custody arrangement. Particularly crucial factors to the court’s determination of the Best Interest of the Children include:
- A child’s age, health, and welfare
- Who the court finds to be the primary parent
- Ability of the parent to care for the childrenPhysical and emotional connections between the parent and children
- Amount of time the parent spends with the children
- Current living arrangements
- Any instances of substance abuse or domestic violence
Courts encourage parents to reach a child custody arrangement between themselves. However, if the parents are unable reach an agreement, a Request for Order may be filed with the court to have the court determine a temporary order regarding child custody.
Wendy K. Tse has exclusively practiced family law since 1998, with extensive experience in matters pertaining to California divorce, contested custody disputes, child support, and spousal support, among others. She is a member of the Los Angelos County Bar and Orange County Bar Associations and is a part of the Brandmeyer, Gilligan & Dockstader law firm team.