Judges in California and in most other states will scrutinize a parent's living situation as part of a child custody proceeding. They will generally look to see that they have enough space for the child and live in a part of town that is safe. If a parent has multiple children, he or she should have sufficient space for each child. Sufficient space is partially based on the child's age and gender.
For instance, a parent who has teenagers living in his or her home will ideally give them their own rooms. Some say that teenagers should not be asked to share a room with younger children as they have different needs. Furthermore, if a parent is living with a child of the opposite gender, it may be necessary to provide that child with extra space for privacy purposes.
Generally speaking, a judge won't withhold custody or visitation rights simply because one parent has a smaller home than the other. As long as the child will be happy and healthy in a given space, a judge won't punish a parent for opting for whatever he or she can afford. Furthermore, judges generally understand that housing can be expensive in larger cities, and they will often give some leeway to a parent by taking that into account.
Those who are responsible and fit to raise their children are often allowed generous parenting time and other parental rights, even if they are not granted full custody. If parents are unable to come to a custody agreement on their own, it may be possible to take the matter to a mediator or a judge. An attorney may help individuals prepare for a mediation session or a court date.