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How will a judge choose a child custody arrangement?

Some parents can work together to create a fair child custody arrangement. However, constructive collaboration is not always possible. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a reasonable child custody arrangement, you may benefit from learning how a judge may handle your child custody case.

A judge may require mediation

If you and your spouse cannot agree on child custody matters, a judge will likely send you to mediation. This is a process in which a neutral third party tries to facilitate effective communication between you and your spouse. The mediator will also try to steer the conversations to help you and your ex come to an agreement.

Unfortunately, mediation does not work for all situations. Sometimes a spouse insists on an unfair arrangement or otherwise tries to sabotage any chance of compromise.

Judges try to choose the best arrangement for the child

If mediation does not help you and your ex reach an agreement, a judge may need to choose a child custody arrangement for you. California law requires that a judge choose the custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child.

The best interest of your child may depend on:

  • Your child’s age
  • Your child’s health
  • Your child’s relationship with each parent
  • Your ability and your spouse’s ability to provide care
  • Your child’s involvement in school, home and the community
  • Any history of family violence
  • Any history of substance abuse

If your relationship with your ex involves a high level of conflict, a judge may ultimately need to set the child custody arrangement for you. By understanding how a judge will make that decision, you may be better prepared to advocate for the custody plan that you feel is in your child’s best interests.

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