child custody can be so emotionally draining that most of us wouldn’t wish a child
custody battle on anyone. If you are a parent who is facing or anticipating
a child custody battle, you understand firsthand the amount of stress
involved, especially if you’re not sure what the future holds.
Even if you’re not the parent who is in “battle mode,”
it’s important that you are fully prepared when you go to court
and that you know what you want in regard to child custody. If you have
to fight for your parental rights, you’ll need to convince the court
that you are the best parent for the job. Follow these tips to prepare
your case and increase the chances that you’ll achieve the positive
outcome that you’re shooting for.
Educate Yourself on California’s Custody Laws
The first thing you want to do is fully prepare yourself on
California’s child custody laws. You can find a wealth of
information about child custody online – just Google “child custody California Courts.”
As you get educated on child custody, be sure to research:
- Child custody
- Legal custody
- Physical custody
- Sole custody
- Joint custody
- Child support
If you are seeking “sole physical custody,” be prepared for
court. If the other parent is seeking sole custody as well, or if he or
she wants “joint physical custody,” you will most likely end
up in court. In these situations, child custody battles often ensue because
neither parent is willing to budge and reach an agreement. In effect,
a judge has to step in and decide for them. If your child’s other
parent is a loving parent who is not abusive and they don’t have
a substance abuse problem, it’s important to be aware that if they
are seeking joint custody and it’s in your child’s best interests,
a judge may award it.
If you’re determined to seek sole custody even though the other parent
is a good person and can provide for your child, it’s important
to consider reaching a compromise instead of going to court. However,
if there are concerns about financial stability,
substance abuse, mental illness,
domestic violence, child neglect, etc., then you can certainly prepare to go to court and
seek sole custody.
Tips for a Successful Custody Case
After you’ve researched California’s child custody laws, hire
an experienced child custody attorney to represent you. It’s very
important that you do not take for granted that the judge will automatically
choose you. The judge’s role is to make a decision that is in your
child’s best interests; therefore, you want to demonstrate that
you share the same focus as the judge. Here are some things that will
help support your effort:
Address your living arrangements. If you want to win custody of your child, make sure your living situation
aligns with that goal. If you’re sleeping on a friend’s couch,
or staying with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or sharing a house with a bunch
of college-age roommates, that’s not going to sit well with the
judge. To demonstrate that you’re the fittest parent, you need to
show that you’re living in a space with plenty of room for your
child or children.
If your spouse is living in the family home with the children, and you’re
living in a motel, or crashing at your friend’s house, sleeping
in their garage or attic, you need to make changes fast. Also, if the
children are living with your spouse in the family home, a good idea is
to find suitable accommodations nearby. Bear in mind that family courts
prefer to maintain the status quo when it comes to children, so the less
their lives need to be disrupted, the better.
Stay on top of your children’s lives. Want to show the court that you’re the better fit? Stay informed
about your children’s lives. Know their teachers’ names. Know
their school and extracurricular activity schedules. Know their best friend’s
name, their likes and dislikes, any medications that they are on, and
their interests. If you truly want to be the primary care provider of
your children, demonstrate to the judge that you know every detail about
Be cooperative with your spouse. This may seem counterintuitive, especially during a child custody battle,
but it’s very important that you are willing to support and facilitate
an ongoing relationship between your children and their other parent.
Likewise, it will not benefit you if you badmouth the other parent in
front of your children or try to interfere with visitation. In the judge’s
eyes, children do best when they have frequent and ongoing contact with
both parents, not just one.
When a Parent is Granted Primary Custody
In California, visitation is called “time-share.” If the children
end up living with one parent more than the other, then the parent who
has the children less than half the time will usually be awarded generous
visitation with the children. Since each family’s situation is unique,
visitation orders can vary widely. It all depends on what is in the best
interests of the children, the parent’s individual situations, etc.
For example, a father may be a commercial airline pilot, or he may travel
frequently for work, and the visitation schedule would have to accommodate
his work schedule.
Basics of Child Custody in California
Are you a parent who is getting a divorce and anticipating a child custody
battle? Or, do you need legal representation in another child custody
matter? For the professional legal assistance you need,
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to meet with an attorney for free.