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If you are in the middle of a dispute over child custody, have concerns about your former partner’s ability to raise your child and fear that your custody rights are at stake, it is critical to carefully approach these issues. According to the Judicial Branch of California, courts review many factors with regard to custody decisions, including the child’s age and each parent’s ability to care for the child.

If you are experiencing challenges as a newly single parent, this does not mean you will lose custody rights solely because of personal struggles. However, it is wise to prepare for court and carefully evaluate your circumstances if you are seeking custody of your children.

What courts consider for custody

It is possible for you and your ex to come up with your own custody plan and submit it to the court if you are both in agreement. If you and the other parent are unable to come to an agreement, however, the court will first send you to mediation. If there is still no agreement, the court looks at several factors to determine custody:

  • Children’s health
  • The relationship between the children and each parent
  • Parental ability to provide care
  • Children’s community ties
  • History of violence or abuse of substances

In some cases, a judge may decide to place the children under a guardianship, or with caregivers other than the parents. It ultimately boils down to which option is best for the children.

Custody arrangements may change

Whatever custody arrangement the court orders at first, remember that you may be able to appeal for modifications later as your circumstances change. You and your ex still may have the option to submit your own parenting plan down the line. It is important that you, your ex and the court work toward a solution that works best for the physical and emotional health of your children.