Understanding Child Preferences in California Child Custody Cases

father convincing his son

Determining child custody arrangements can easily become one of the most contentious parts of a divorce or other breakup. In cases where the parents can’t agree on custody arrangements, the child’s preferences may play a role. However, that process depends on a variety of factors that your Pleasanton child custody attorney can help you understand.

When Do a Child’s, Preferences Matter?

In general, California family law is based on the best interests of the child. This gives a judge a wide amount of discretion when determining when to consider a child’s custody preferences and how much weight to give them.

The main law regarding a child’s age in custody decisions is California Family Code 3042, which essentially states that the court must consider the child’s preferences if the child is 14 years old or older, unless the judge determines that it is not in the child’s best interest to do so. Judges also can consider the preferences of children younger than age 14, but they are not required to.

When are the Child’s Preferences Ignored?

The court may choose not to listen to a child’s preferences for many reasons. Common ones include:

  • Situations involving abuse or neglect in which the child wants to stay with the abuser
  • When one parent has been trying to turn the child against the other parent, also known as parental alienation
  • When one parent is perceived as more fun due to a lack of discipline and rules
  • Situations where one or both parents are pressuring the child

If the child is being abused or neglected and wants to stay with the non-abusive parent, judges will typically take that into consideration. A Pleasanton child custody lawyer can help you determine what factors may apply to your situation.

Your Dedicated Family Law Attorney

If you’re looking for a family law attorney in Pleasanton, CA, to help you handle child custody or other matters, contact the Tierney Law Group today. Our team of experienced and passionate attorneys is here to help.

Pleasanton Family Law Attorneys

We recognize that child custody & parental visitation is a sensitive yet critical aspect of Family Law litigation, and decisions must be made that will have a significant impact on your children.

In California, child custody and visitation requires consideration of the best interests of the child. This standard mandates that the Court consider various sensitive factors which may increase the stress, discomfort, and disagreement between parents. This area of the law requires the knowledgeable, compassionate, & responsive representation that our attorneys can provide. Whether you are seeking a custody and visitation order in connection with an action for dissolution, legal separation, abuse prevention, or parentage, we diligently work to obtain favorable outcomes for our clients while maintaining the sensitivity and attention necessary to ensure that the needs and interests of your children remains paramount.

Custody of children may be held by both parents (“joint custody”) or by one parent (“sole custody.”) Additionally, California distinguishes between “physical” and “legal” custody. If a parent has “sole legal custody,” that parent has the exclusive right and responsibility to make decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the child. If parents share “joint legal custody,” both parents are legally entitled to make such decisions. If a parent has “sole physical custody,” the child resides with that parent and is under the supervision of that parent. The Court may order visitation to the parent who does not have physical custody.

California contemplates that child custody can be assigned in a number of ways:

  • A parent may have sole legal and sole physical custody
  • A parent may have joint legal and sole physical custody
  • The parents may share both legal and physical custody
  • The parents may share physical custody, while one parent has sole legal custody

We are committed to helping clients achieve their goals. Whether you need to establish a custody order, modify your current order or disagree with your ex’s attempts to modify orders, we have the experience and resources to protect your rights.

Contact the Experienced Pleasanton California Family Law and Divorce Attorneys at Tierney Law Group, PC today for a consultation. Let our team help you at this difficult time.

Click on one of the specialized practice areas below to get more information.