Factors Courts Consider in Custody Cases
When the parents of a young child get a divorce, issues concerning the allocation of parenting time and responsibilities must be resolved. In California, courts must evaluate questions concerning the custody of a minor child based on the child’s best interest. Under California Family Code 3011, the court must consider certain factors when trying to figure out which custody arrangement better serves the best interests of the child.
Section 3011 requires California courts to consider the following when determining custody issues:
- The child’s health, safety, and welfare
- Any history of abuse
- The nature and amount of contact with both parents
- History of drug abuse
Importantly, the child’s best interest is the core focus of custody determinations. The law deems the parent’s interests to be subordinate to the interests of their children when it comes to custody issues. As a result, issues concerning how busy the parent is too busy for their child, due to their employment or business schedule, may be used by the court to issue a custody ruling that does not favor the busier parent.
Travel and Custody
Today, it is more common to see both parents in a family to have their own career paths. In many cases, one of the parents is self-employed, owning, and operating a business for themselves. Depending on the nature of the business, the parent may be required to do a lot of traveling.
If you and your spouse have competing claims regarding custody, the fact that you go on frequent business trips can be used by your former spouse to argue that you do not have enough time for your child, and therefore they should have more time with the child.
The court will craft a custody order that fits the applicable circumstances of the case. If you frequently have to travel due to your job or business, you must demonstrate that this will or has not interfered with your ability to meet the needs of your child.
This can be done if your job or business allows you to make enough money to provide the best opportunities for enriching your child’s life, such as educational, financial, and medical benefits that outweigh the disadvantages of traveling often.
Additionally, frequent travel for work or business tends to be more acceptable in situations where the child is old enough where they can take care of themselves while you are away. However, if a nanny, babysitter, or au pair spends more time with the child than you do, this can be an indication that you do not have enough time with your children.
Generally, courts often believe a child’s best interests are served as a result of close contact with both parents. Thus, hiring someone else to take care of your parenting responsibilities because you are out of town most of the time can endanger your custody rights.
Modification Due to Travel
Courts similarly evaluate such factors when modifying the terms of an existing custody order. To modify a custody order, the party seeking modification must prove that, subsequent to the court’s original order, there was a material change of circumstance justifying changing its terms.
For example, if a party obtains a promotion or new job after the court renders its final judgment for custody, the other could attempt to modify the existing custody order by saying the new circumstances of your work or business don’t allow you to fulfill your child’s needs under the current custody order.
In some cases, changes in a parent’s schedule may qualify as a material change in circumstances warranting a different custody arrangement. Significantly, the court will rule in favor of the party that can show that their idea of custody best serves the interests of their child.
Contact Fenchel Family Law to Learn More
Questions of child custody are some of the most emotional and stressful issues that come up in family law. To make sure you have effective representation in your child custody case, please call Fenchel Family Law to consult one of our experienced attorneys for legal advice.
Contact Fenchel Family Law at (415) 650-1112 or submit an online consultation request to explore your case’s pros and cons with a skilled attorney today.