If you are a parent who is headed for divorce, one of your foremost concerns will be your children. What will happen to them? Where will they live? Which parent will pay child support?
Each married couple’s relationship is different, and each couple has different attitudes towards each other and their children. You may already feel confident about how child custody and support will work out, or you may not be confident about these issues.
Perhaps you have been the breadwinner while your spouse stayed home to raise the children, and now you’re worried that you’ll only see your children every other weekend.
Or, perhaps you have been the stay-at-home mom or dad and you are worried that your children will live with your spouse because you can’t afford to support them. These are valid concerns, and often the prospect of divorce can cause loving parents to fret over these issues.
If I file for divorce, what are my rights?
As long as a family does not have issues over substance abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence, both parents have equal rights toward custody of their children under California law.
Once one or both spouses decide to file for divorce, they must decide how to handle child custody. Either parent can ask the court for a child custody order; a parent can do this once he or she files for legal separation or divorce.
A parent can also ask the court for a temporary order while their divorce is pending through the court.
When you file for divorce, you have the opportunity to sit down with your spouse and work out a child custody and visitation schedule that suits your family.
In a divorce action, you and your spouse would create a “parenting plan,” also known as a “custody and visitation” agreement – a written agreement outlining how much time the children spend with each parent.
If you and your spouse can work together and reach an agreement, this is the best way to address your child custody issues, especially since no none knows your family or your children better than you and your spouse.
What if we cannot agree on a parenting plan?
If you and your spouse cannot agree on a parenting plan, the judge will have to decide for you. When determining a child custody and visitation schedule, the judge will make a decision based on the best interests of your children.
If you are nervous about child custody, the best approach is to try and reach an agreement with your spouse, one that has your children’s best interests at heart. Regardless if you are the breadwinner, the stay-at-home parent, or you both work, it is best to reach an agreement that keeps both parents actively involved in the children’s lives.
To learn more about your parental rights in a divorce, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP!