THURMAN'S INSIDER'S CUSTODY TIPS:
What Does "Best Interests of the Children Mean"
Family Code section 3011 is the root "best interests" statute
of all California family court and mental health provider custody policies.
It is a must-read, and it is the statute that effectively creates a presumption
against parents who have substance abuse problems - implying that the
California State Legislature views drug or alcohol abuse as a crisis immediately
affecting the wellbeing and safety of children, which should be no surprise.
If you or the other parent have drug issues, then you need to read it
closely and search our website for our other articles on the topic. Read
my articles about
drug testing and recently updated
Family Code section 3041.5 . However, this statute is way much larger in terms of its application
on the question of children's best interest than the question of substance abuse.
CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE
CUSTODY OF CHILDREN
BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN
Family Code Section 3011
(a) In making a determination of the best interests of the child in a proceeding
described in Section 3021, the court shall, among any other factors it
finds relevant and consistent with
Section 3020, consider all of the following:
(1) The health, safety, and welfare of the child.
(2)(A) A history of abuse by one parent or any other person seeking custody
against any of the following:
(i) A child to whom the parent or person seeking custody is related by
blood or affinity or with whom the parent or person seeking custody has
had a caretaking relationship, no matter how temporary.
(ii) The other parent.
(iii) A parent, current spouse, or cohabitant, of the parent or person
seeking custody, or a person with whom the parent or person seeking custody
has a dating or engagement relationship.
(B) As a prerequisite to considering allegations of abuse, the court may
require independent corroboration, including, but not limited to, written
reports by law enforcement agencies, child protective services or other
social welfare agencies, courts, medical facilities, or other public agencies
or private nonprofit organizations providing services to victims of sexual
assault or domestic violence. As used in this paragraph, "abuse against
a child" means "child abuse and neglect" as defined in
Section 11165.6 of the Penal Code and abuse against any of the other persons
described in clause (ii) or (iii) of subparagraph (A) means "abuse"
as defined in
(3) The nature and amount of contact with both parents, except as provided in
(4) The habitual or continual illegal use of controlled substances, the
habitual or continual abuse of alcohol, or the habitual or continual abuse
of prescribed controlled substances by either parent. Before considering
these allegations, the court may first require independent corroboration,
including, but not limited to, written reports from law enforcement agencies,
courts, probation departments, social welfare agencies, medical facilities,
rehabilitation facilities, or other public agencies or nonprofit organizations
providing drug and alcohol abuse services. As used in this paragraph,
"controlled substances" has the same meaning as defined in the
California Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Division 10 (commencing
with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code.
(5)(A) When allegations about a parent pursuant to paragraphs (2) or (4)
have been brought to the attention of the court in the current proceeding,
and the court makes an order for sole or joint custody to that parent,
the court shall state its reasons in writing or on the record. In these
circumstances, the court shall ensure that any order regarding custody
or visitation is specific as to time, day, place, and manner of transfer
of the child as set forth in subdivision (c) of
(B) This paragraph does not apply if the parties stipulate in writing or
on the record regarding custody or visitation.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the court shall not consider the sex,
gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation of a parent,
legal guardian, or relative in determining the best interests of the child.