Some parents facing divorce don’t want to share custody of their child with the party. The reasons behind their reluctance to share custody can range from valid reasons such as a past history of abuse to invalid reasons like simply using custody to inflict emotional pain on the other party. To be clear, the Sacramento family court does not use custody as a sword against parties, but rather seeks a custody arrangement that serves the best interest of the child – not the best interest of an individual party.
Note – a parent’s immigration status does not disqualify them from gaining custody of their child.
A parent’s interest in child custody is a substantial right within the protection of federal due-process and equal protection clauses. However, parents do not have a right to equal decision making or time-share with their children. Rather, the court’s utilize the best interest of the child standard in resolving custody disputes.
The Best Interest of the Child Standard
In deciding what custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest the court will evaluate the following factors:
- The child’s health, safety and welfare.
- The nature and amount of the child’s contact with both parents.
- History of drug or alcohol abuse.
- History of abuse.
- Any other relevant factors.
Legal vs Physical Custody
The right of child custody has two dimensions – legal and physical custody. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions with regard to the child’s health, education and welfare.
Sole custody can refer to sole legal and/or physical custody. Sole legal custody means that one parent has the right to make decisions relating to the health, welfare and education of the child. Sole physical custody means that the child resides with and is under the supervision of one parent. While sole custody awards are not favored by the court, they are appropriate in certain family dynamics.