Like those in other states, the courts of California will create parenting plans and make child custody decisions based on what the court sees as the best interests of the child.
The phrase best interests of the child basically means that, when deciding child custody, the court is always going to consider what is beneficial for the child over and above the desires of the adults in the child's life, include the child's parents.
Of course, the opinion of each parent will as a practical matter count for a great deal in the court's decision-making process, as they, in all likelihood, are in the best position to know their own children's interests. Likewise, provided the child is mature enough, the child's own opinion as to what is in his or her best interests will be considered.
However, California courts will consider other factors as well when deciding which parent will receive child custody and how much parenting time the other parent will get to enjoy.
In summary, the court will examine the overall age and physical and mental health of the child.
The court will also take in to account the child's relationship with each parent, as well as evidence of how well each parent would likely be able to rear and raise the child. In this respect, the court may take in to account allegations pertaining to child abuse or the misuse of drugs or alcohol.
Finally, a California court may take in to account what the child's relationship is like with respect to his or her school, local community and the like.
While this is an overview of what a court will consider when making a child custody decision, such cases are in fact highly fact-specific. A parent in Los Angeles should discuss the details of their custody cases with an experienced family law attorney.