Spouses who are in the process of getting divorced or contemplating a divorce deal with various familial factors under the state’s family law, including child custody. All the different areas of child custody can be overwhelming, especially when there is an issue of determining the parents’ ability to provide appropriate child care.

If you live in California and need understanding about what makes a parent unfit, you should contact a child custody attorney in Los Angeles.  You may be concerned about making sure that your arrangement reflects your interests, California court provides a complete legal guide for dealing with child custody cases. 

A California family law attorney covers all of the foundations, from simple custodial parent and child custody cases to complex legal issues.

Child custody is a significant aspect of family law that deals with the rights and responsibilities of parents regarding their children after separation or divorce. In this article, we will explore the concept of child custody, its different types, the legal procedures involved, and the factors considered by the court in making custody determinations.

Definition of Child Custody

Child custody is a legal term that encompasses the rights and responsibilities of parents or guardians in relation to their children. It involves both physical custody, which determines where the child will reside, and legal custody, which determines who has the right to make important decisions for the child.

Types of Child Custody

Child custody can be classified into different types:

a. Sole Custody

Sole custody occurs when one parent has exclusive physical and legal custody of the child. This means that the child primarily resides with one parent, and that parent has the sole authority to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.

b. Joint Custody

Joint custody involves both parents sharing physical and legal custody of the child. It allows for joint decision-making and shared responsibilities in raising the child. Joint custody can be joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both.

c. Split Custody

Split custody is a less common arrangement where there are multiple children involved, and each parent has physical custody of one or more children.

Factors Considered in Child Custody Cases

When determining child custody, courts consider various factors, such as:

  • The child’s age and gender
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The physical and mental health of the parents
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment
  • The child’s preference (depending on the child’s age and maturity)
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage a relationship with the other parent

Legal Procedures for Determining Child Custody

Child custody decisions are usually made as part of family divorce law or separation proceedings. The legal procedures involved may include:

a. Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process where parents work with a neutral third party to reach a mutually acceptable custody agreement. It allows parents to maintain control over the decision-making process.

b. Court Proceedings

If parents are unable to reach an agreement through mediation, the court may intervene and make the custody determination. In court proceedings, each parent presents their case, and the judge considers all relevant evidence and arguments before making a final decision.

The primary consideration in child custody cases is the best interests of the child. Courts prioritize the child’s well-being and aim to ensure their physical and emotional safety, stability, and development. Factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, their needs, and their wishes (if appropriate) are evaluated to determine the arrangement that best serves their interests.

Child custody and divorce often go hand in hand. During divorce proceedings, a family divorce lawyer can help with decisions regarding child custody need to be made. It is crucial to prioritize the child’s well-being and work towards a fair and reasonable custody arrangement that promotes their best interests.

What Makes a Parent Unfit for Having Child Custody?

The word “unfit” is defined as having inadequate requirements and essential raising and care functions necessary for taking care of a child’s well-being. If the parent’s capacity to provide for their own basic needs is impaired, they are deemed unfit to care for the child/children. The court is responsible for protecting the child/children’s welfare and the parents’ rights to make decisions for them. This means that the court must determine whether the parent/ guardians can provide for the child’s needs and secure their future.

Usually, when a parent has to be determined unfit for having child custody, certain factors are used to assess their incapability to take care of a child’s welfare, such as being under the following circumstances:

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What Makes A Parent Unfit For Child Custody?

  • History and evidence of abuse or violence
  • Lack of involvement in the child’s life
  • Incapacity to provide financial support
  • Having an existing mental illness
  • History of an extremely hostile relationship with the child

When the court determines that a parent is unfit, the court will decide on the child’s best interests. Ultimately, the court always makes sure that the child’s best interests are met. Even though the court will want to ensure that both parents can care for their child, it doesn’t change the fact that the child should be under the most suitable care until they reach legal age.

California Family Law on Child Custody

The California court will assign a judge to hear the case and render a custody and visitation order. Child custody is defined as having the right to decide about the child’s welfare and having parental rights and responsibilities regarding the child. A judge may grant joint legal custody, sole custody, or full custody to parents fit to the court’s requirements.



California’s child custody laws aim to ensure that children live in safe environments and are not harmed by their parents. For this reason, if you live in the San Fernando Valley, it is extremely important to hire an experienced child custody and family law attorney in Woodland Hills to help you get through the court system. The process can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining. You will need to have a comprehensive understanding of the family law, what makes a parent unfit, and the legalities involved in making custody and visitation court orders. It is essential to retain an attorney who knows the local child custody laws and helps parents with crucial legal decisions.

Child custody is a crucial aspect of family law that determines the legal rights and responsibilities of parents regarding their children. Understanding the different types of custody, the legal procedures involved, and the factors considered by the court is essential for parents navigating child custody disputes. By prioritizing the best interests of the child and seeking appropriate legal guidance, parents can work towards fair and effective custody arrangements that promote the well-being and development of their children.

A qualified California child custody attorney’s experience will give you the confidence you need to move forward with your child custody case. Contact us here today to request a consultation.

People Also Ask

Can child custody be shared equally between parents?

Yes, joint custody allows for shared parenting responsibilities and decision-making authority. However, the specific arrangement depends on the circumstances and the best interests of the child.

Can grandparents or other relatives seek custody of a child?

In certain situations, grandparents or other relatives may be able to seek custody or guardianship of a child. The laws regarding third-party custody vary by jurisdiction, but the court generally considers the child’s best interests and the ability of the relative to provide a suitable and stable environment for the child.

What happens if parents violate a child custody order?

Violating a child custody order can have serious legal consequences. The non-compliant parent may be held in contempt of court, face fines, or even have their custody rights modified or restricted. It is essential to adhere to the terms of the custody order and seek legal remedies if issues arise.

Can child custody arrangements be modified?

Yes, child custody arrangements can be modified under certain circumstances. If there is a significant change in circumstances or if the current arrangement no longer serves the child’s best interests, a parent can petition the court for a modification. However, it is crucial to provide compelling evidence to support the requested modification.

Is it possible to enforce a child custody order across international borders?

Enforcing a child custody order across international borders can be challenging due to jurisdictional complexities. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides a framework for resolving international child custody disputes and facilitating the return of children to their country of habitual residence. However, it is advisable to consult with an attorney experienced in international family law for guidance in these cases.

About Family and Divorce Lawyer, Leon F. Bennett, Esq.

The Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett provide efficient and effective Family Law services throughout Southern California for over 35 years that satisfy you and your family’s goals. Leon F. Bennett, Esq. is an expert family law attorney in Woodland Hills, Ca., who will get the desired results for you and your family. Contact us today to request a consultation.