What Questions Does a Judge Ask in a Child Custody Case?

During a California child custody case, a judge’s main concern is the child’s best interests. A judge will collect information about the child’s relationship with both parents, the child’s daily life and routine, how well the parents get along, and many other factors to determine the right child custody arrangement. Being prepared for the questions a judge may ask can help you get through your child custody matter.

What Is the Current Custody Arrangement?

If you and your spouse have already separated or are living apart, a judge will ask about the type of custody arrangement that is currently in place. A judge will ask which parent is the current primary caretaker, how often the noncustodial parent has the kids and what custody changes are being sought for the future.

What Is Your Desired Custody Arrangement?

You will be asked to provide a written statement or affidavit describing the child custody arrangement you are seeking from the court. There are several different types of custody, including sole custody, joint custody, legal custody, physical custody and visitation. A custody lawyer in California can help you decide which type of arrangement is best for you and your family.

Will the Proposed Arrangement Protect the Child’s Best Interests?

A judge will ask how a proposed custody arrangement will contribute to a child’s sense of peace, happiness and stability. In general, a stable, consistent and predictable daily schedule is viewed as what is best for a child’s mental and psychological development, especially after the upheaval that a divorce can cause. 

How Is Communication Between the Parents?

The law maintains that it is best for a child to have frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents after a divorce or separation, when possible. If it is safe for the child and conducive to his or her well-being, a judge may order a joint custody arrangement. This makes trust and communication between the parents important.

If you and your ex-spouse cannot communicate or be in the same room together, a judge will take this into consideration when determining the right custody arrangement. If the judge thinks that one of you will not cooperate with the other, that parent has a lesser chance of receiving the custody arrangement he or she wants. It is important to do your best to remain calm and professional during your child custody case.

What Does Your Relationship With the Child Look Like?

A judge will ask about the child’s relationship with both parents: how close the child is to each parent, whether the child is closer to one parent than the other, and the child’s ties to other family members and the community. If the child is old enough and mature enough, he or she may be asked directly what kind of custody arrangement he or she wants.

Are There Mental or Physical Reasons One Parent Should Not Have Custody?

 A judge will assess each party’s parental fitness to determine what is best for the child. If anyone has any concerns regarding the mental or physical health of one or both parents, these parties should submit signed statements or affidavits with their input. If there are any instances of substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, a judge needs to have this information. Psychological evaluations may be ordered in some circumstances.

Are There Any Plans to Relocate?

If one parent is planning to relocate out of the state or country, there may be questions about the reasons for the move and its potential impact on the child. If the move threatens the child’s well-being or relationship with his or her other parent, a judge may bar the parent from moving or assign primary custody to the other parent. 

Any other relevant information that could impact a custody determination or the child’s best interests should be given to a judge. To prepare answers to these questions and others that may be asked, contact a Sacramento child custody lawyer at Boyd Law for a free consultation.