Low-cost Modesto Child Custody Attorney
Child custody litigation can be expensive and time-consuming. To help clients fight for their custody rights in Modesto I charge a low hourly rate of $300 per hour. As an affordable Modesto divorce attorney, I advocate for a custody determination that satisfies your schedule and the best interests of your child. To learn more about my representation in child custody actions in Stanislaus County call my office at (916) 250-1610 for a free consultation.
How The Modesto Family Court Decides Child Custody
Child custody determinations are not formulaic like child support or temporary spousal support. Rather, custody decisions are influenced by your child custody attorney’s advocacy and a multi-factored inquiry called the best interest of the child standard. This standard navigates the court’s decision and plays a part in the child custody assessment otherwise known as Child Custody Recommending Counseling.
Best interest of the Child
Divorces and marital separations are unpleasant and convoluted ordeals. Marital obligations are settled, property divided and custody of the children determined. The issue of custody can become precarious. Disagreeing parents often fight over the custody of children. The endeavor can be very stressful for the children. In some cases, divorce has been shown to diminish a child’s future competence in all areas of life, including family relationships, education, emotional well-being, and future earning power (Anderson, 2014). As it is, the children subject to a custody dispute are vulnerable. Thus, it is the duty of the child custody court to award custody to the party best suited to look after the interests of the children. Deciding custody is a serious issue where every factor is considered. It is the duty of the court to decide according to the “best interest of the child” doctrine. Section 3011 of the family code provides the following guidelines to aid them in their conclusion;
- The child’s health, safety, and welfare
- History of abuse
- The nature and the amount of the child’s contact with both parents.
- History of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Any other factors the court deems relevant.
The child’s health, safety, and welfare
The most important factor is the child’s health safety and welfare. The court should determine if the parent is able to give the child a healthy lifestyle, provide nutritious food and a decent home. The parent should also guarantee that the child is free from harm inside or outside the household. It is also incumbent on the legal guardian to support the psychological and emotional wellbeing of the child.
History of abuse
Abuse is the intentional infliction of harm against another. Abuse can take different forms. It can be physical, psychological or emotional harm. It can also be done by neglect and unlawful corporal punishment. The court looks to not only the abuse committed to the natural child, but also against a child under the guardian’s care, the other spouse, the parent of the other spouse, or even current partner of the other spouse, the court can examine a multitude of sources. Police reports, records of other law enforcement agencies and even testimonies of the abused. Any false accusations of abuse are taken against the accusing spouse and can be detrimental to their claim.
The nature and the amount of the child’s contact with both parents.
The closeness and the contact of a child to a parent is very important to their development into a healthy functioning adult (Peterson, 2009). Growing up with a parent that the child is not familiar or comfortable with takes a toll on the emotional wellbeing of a child in any stage of their development. The court favors the parent or guardian to whom the child has a closer attachment. The court also has the power to deny a parent or guardian custody if it finds that the parent’s presence is detrimental to a child’s psychological and emotional state.
History of drug or alcohol abuse.
Living in a household where a parent or caregiver misuses substances doesn’t mean a child will experience abuse, but it is a risk factor; almost 50% of child abuse cases are from households where a parent or guardian is a substance abuser (Sidebotham P. ET. Al., 2016). The court aims to guard against the aforementioned danger by examining the parent’s tendencies for substance abuse. Similar to abuse, the court can look at police reports, records from law enforcement agencies, medical records, and official testimonies. It can even order drug testing and review medical reports to ascertain a custodian’s substance dependency.
Any other factors the court deems relevant
Aside from the elements prescribed in section 3011 of the Family Code, the court can also look at the circumstances surrounding the lifestyle of the parent seeking custody. The occupation of the would-be guardian is examined. The court does not immediately grant custody to whoever the child prefers, notwithstanding, the court gives weight to the child’s preference. It may indicate that the preferred parent may be closer and more connected to the child and is better able to support his or her emotional growth
The court does not apply these guidelines so rigidly. All these factors influence the court’s decision. The court cannot decide based on only one element, the court takes into account all the circumstances affecting the child and may decide based on the totality of evidence presented. Every custody case is unique and must be thoroughly resolved on its merits.