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Children are some of the most vulnerable people in the population. They don’t have the experience, resources, or legal rights to stand up for themselves if they’re in a dangerous situation. That’s why California has strict child custody laws in place: to protect kids who can’t defend themselves.

There are dozens of laws that apply to the average custody case. However, not all of them are equally important. Some are much more likely to affect the outcome of a case than others. If you ever need to fight for your kids, the decision will almost certainly revolve around the following three laws.

Children’s Right to Safety

The most critical California children’s rights law is simple. Family Code § 3020 clearly states that children have the fundamental right to be safe and free from abuse. This means that all legal decisions regarding child welfare should revolve around keeping the kids safe and out of dangerous situations.

In particular, this law clarifies that child abuse and domestic violence are “detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of the child.” Under Section 3020, any household where a kid experiences abuse or witnesses domestic violence is not considered a safe place. As such, courts are instructed to find other, safer locations for the kid to live when possible.

Parental Rights to Child Custody

The other side of the coin is found in Family Code § 3010. This law states that both legal parents of a child are equally entitled to spend time raising that kid. Simply by being one of the children’s parents, you are granted the right to partial custody unless other circumstances make it clear that this would put your children in danger.

Best Interests of the Child Standard

This clause is the one that determines how kids’ rights to safety and parents’ rights to a relationship are sorted out. According to Family Code § 3011, all decisions regarding child custody will be made with attention to the kid’s best interests. The Section defines this as maintaining the child’s health, safety, welfare, and the nature and amount of contact with each parent.

In general, the Best Interests standard attempts to split time evenly between parents to support their rights and the kid’s right to continuing relationships with them. However, a parent can lose their right to custody if they put their kid in danger or expose them to domestic violence or drug use.

This clause is the foundation for most custody battles. Parents frequently disagree over what’s in the best interests of their children. California courts use the Best Interests standard when parents can’t agree on an arrangement, making the decisions for them.

Get the Help You Need to Interpret California Custody Laws

Child custody can be contentious. California’s laws attempt to make it as simple as possible while still protecting children and parents alike. If you’re facing one of these battles, you’ll need help navigating these laws and giving yourself the best chance of retaining custody of your kids.

The experienced family law attorneys at Viola Law Firm, P.C., can help. Get in touch today to discuss your situation and learn more about effectively fighting for your kids.