You hear it mentioned over and over again, “The Court makes a custody order in keeping with the child’s best interests.” However, seldom do you hear anyone define what “best interests” really means. The factors that the court must consider in determining the best interests of the child are spelled out in California Family Code section 3041 as follows:
“In making a determination of the best interest of the child in a proceeding described in Section 3021, the court shall, among any other factors it finds relevant, consider all of the following:
(a) The health, safety, and welfare of the child.
(b) Any history of abuse by one parent or any other person seeking custody against any of the following:
(1) Any child to whom he or she is related by blood or affinity or with whom he or she has had a caretaking relationship, no matter how temporary.
(2) The other parent.
(3) A parent, current spouse, or cohabitant, of the parent or person seeking custody, or a person with whom the parent or person seeking custody has a dating or engagement relationship.
. . . .
(c) The nature and amount of contact with both parents, except as provided in Section 3046.
(d) The habitual or continual illegal use of controlled substances or habitual or continual abuse of alcohol by either parent. . . .”
Cal. Fam. § 3011 (West 2011).
Submitted by Shawn Weber, Attorney at Law