When you file for divorce in California and you and your spouse can’t agree on a parenting plan, a judge may have to decide who gets custody of your children. They might grant you full custody, joint custody or no custody at all, depending on what the judge thinks is best for the child. A judge could even grant custody to an appointed guardian that’s not you or your former spouse.
How does a judge make child custody decisions?
The judge’s child custody decision will have a massive effect on your child’s life going forward. As a result, they’ll take several factors into consideration to ensure that they’re making the right decision. Contrary to popular belief, the judge won’t automatically give the mother full custody–instead, they’ll look at both parents’ living situations.
One major factor is each parent’s ability to take care of the child. The judge will want to award custody to the parent who can take the child to school, cook their meals, drive them to extracurricular activities and look after their basic needs. They’ll also consider whether the child will have to relocate if they move in with one parent. For example, if your former spouse moves to a new city, the judge might not grant them custody because your child would have to switch schools and adjust to a new area.
The judge will also consider the child’s relationship with both parents. They won’t necessarily let the child make the decision, especially if they’re young, but they might take their wishes into consideration. A child custody attorney could help you fight for custody in court.
How can you get custody of your child?
Since the judge doesn’t know you personally, they’ll base your evaluation on the way you present yourself in court. An attorney could help you make the best possible impression and secure custody of your child.