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Pursuing primary custody in California

When two parents choose to separate or divorce, determining who gets primary custody of a child is often a large conflict. Parents do not generally get to dictate child custody terms to a court, but a court may willingly implement an agreed-upon custody plan if both parents present it together and the terms are fair.

Courts are more likely to assess each parent's circumstances and temperament and make a ruling on the child custody dispute based on a number of factors the parents can anticipate and plan around.

If you face an upcoming custody dispute, or if you are already involved in one, don't hesitate to reach out for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney who understands California's divorce and custody system. Professional counsel helps you understand your legal options and obligations and helps you fight for a fair custody order that respects your rights and privileges as a parent.

A child's preferences in custody disputes

While the court generally attempts to hand down rulings that fit the best interests of a child, it is possible that a child may have preferences of his or her own that may influence the court's opinion. In California, most children at least 14 years old may establish their own preferences in a custody dispute, and courts often attempt to accommodate these preferences.

If this is an issue you face, or if it may grow into an issue later on, be sure to address it with an attorney.

Factors that influence custody

A court may look at each parent's financial life and personal life to determine which parent makes the best overall primary home for the child. Things like the location where each parent lives, as well as the educational opportunities available may play a part in the decision.

A court may also consider the conduct of each parent, especially as it relates to the other parent. Courts in California prefer for each parent to encourage strong relationship between the child and the other parent, known as parents' "affirmative obligation." In some cases, the best things you can do to increase your chances of gaining primary custody of your child is demonstrating to the court that you are a team player who understands how to include rather than exclude your child's other parent.

Don't fight for custody without professional counsel

Fighting for custody in California is not an easy task. To attempt this by yourself, without professional counsel, is an invitation to disaster. You don't want to spend the rest of your child's upbringing wishing that you had fought harder or smarter for better terms in your custody order.

Be sure that you use every tool you have to pursue the child custody order you deserve, that fully meets your child's needs and keeps your rights protected along the way.

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