Determining the Best Interests of the Child in a Custody Case


When child custody is being decided as part of a Pasadena divorce, the court will look at the best interests of the child as the main factor in deciding how custody and visitation will be handled.

Joint physical and legal custody are favored by state law if both parents agree to it. If joint physical and legal custody is not a workable arrangement, the judge will consider a few other factors to determine the child's best interests.

For obvious reasons, the child's health and safety must be protected. The court will not allow visitation if a parent is abusive to the child. Illegal drug use or alcoholism would be a reason to deny custody, as would a mental illness that compromises a parent's ability to properly care for the child on a day to day basis. These factors have to be documented by recognized experts, however. You can't claim your spouse has a mental illness and get custody denied based on your testimony alone.

Continuity and stability are widely recognized as being best for a child's overall development. If a child has always been raised by a stay-at-home mother, it would be highly unlikely for the father to get sole custody. Siblings are almost always kept together, unless there are special circumstances that require they be kept apart.

California believes that children have a right to have a relationship with both parents. A parent who shows a commitment to co-parenting and allowing the child to remain in contact with the non-custodial parent will be given preference over a parent who is angry about the divorce and not willing to make reasonable compromises to help the child maintain a relationship with their other parent.

The child's preference comes into play if the child is old enough to make an informed decision about which parent he or she would like to live with. The child's wishes will not be considered if the judge thinks the child is being manipulated into voicing a specific view.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you need legal representation during your divorce. Our skilled Pasadena family law attorneys can help with child custody issues, as well as concerns relating to visitation and the payment of child support.