California Divorce and AB-957

AB-957 is a bill, which the California Senate and Assembly approved, and as of the writing of this article, September 13, 2023, it is awaiting Governor Gavin Newsome’s signature.

Where can you see the text of the bill?

What does the bill change?

  • The law has been that the court makes a determination in the best interest in the child, which includes considering the health, safety and welfare of the child. 
  • The bill adds that the health, safety and welfare of the child includes, among other factors, a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identify or gender expression. 
  • The bill also states that affirmation includes a range of actions and will be unique for each child, but in every case must promote the child’s overall health and well-being. 

 Does this require the court to award custody to the gender affirming parent?

  • According to Scott Alman, who is a family law professor at the University of Southern California, the bill “does not announce any bright line rules forbidding the judge to award custody to a denying parent or mandating that the judge award a child to an affirming parent.” 
  • In Altman’s opinion, as quoted by the article, while the bill sends signals that affirming is generally better than denying a child’s gender identity, it does not mark a dramatic legal shift because courts have long been tasked with resolving custody disputes involving LGBTQ+ children, and judges already consider multiple factors. 

How impactful will this bill be on custody disputes in the future?

  • As this change is new, it is unclear how extensive, if any, the impact will be in custody cases in California.
  • The arguments for and against are explained in detail and can be viewed by clicking “Assembly Floor Analysis”.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

If you are anticipating custody issues in your divorce, contact us at the Law Office of David Knecht. We have extensive experience with family law and can help you navigate the legal system. We will craft compelling arguments in favor of the plan that you think is best for your children and assist you in strategizing how to achieve your divorce goals. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.