If you are a parent living in Los Angeles and you are getting a divorce, you will need to learn about California’s child custody and support laws. If you have not filed for divorce but you are planning to, there is no better time than now to start learning about your parental rights under California law.
One of the main reasons why divorcing parents end up with too little time with their children after a divorce is that they did not know their rights at the beginning of the divorce process.
While child custody may seem black and white, we assure you it’s not. There are things that parents can do that can unintentionally harm their custody case and when this happens, it’s a great tragedy.
If you’ve never been divorced with children before, we want to help you better understand what issues you need to start thinking about today. This way, you’ll go into your divorce with a clear head and you will know what you should and should not do.
Ultimately, the goal is to keep the relationship with your children intact after the divorce, if not make it better than it was before.
To begin, we want to discuss what things you should not do.
What Not to Do Before and During Divorce
Divorce is a highly emotional process for all involved, but there are things that you can avoid doing to make it easier for you and your children. If you refrain from doing these things, we promise the divorce will go smoother all the way around.
What not to do:
- Don’t badmouth your ex on social media; it’s much better to keep your divorce private.
- Don’t badmouth your ex to your children. This not only hurts your ex, but more importantly, it hurts your children. Your children deserve two loving parents in their lives.
- Don’t alienate your children from your spouse. This is parental alienation and the effects can last a lifetime.
- Don’t share divorce details with your children. Let your “kids be kids” and spare them the messy details of the divorce.
- Don’t keep your children from your spouse, unless of course domestic violence, neglect, or substance abuse are issues.
- If you’re ordered to pay child support, don’t stop paying it for any reason. The money is for your children and you could be held in contempt of court.
- Don’t forbid your ex from seeing your children during their court-ordered visitation out of spite or jealousy.
If you’re taking the divorce hard, consider talking with a close friend or family member about it, or someone at your church, or a counselor or therapist.
Whatever you do, remain strong in front of your children and try not to unload your adult problems on them. If you are loving and supportive and they see you maintaining a positive attitude, it will help them deal with the divorce better themselves.
What You Need to Start Thinking About Today
Spouses with minor children have special considerations when it comes to a divorce. If you’re headed for divorce, you have to think about who your children will live with, you have to think about who’s going to pay child support, and whether an equal parenting time arrangement would work for your family.
Some important issues you need to start thinking about:
- Who the children are going to live with most of the time
- Whether an equal timesharing arrangement will work
- What is going to happen to the family home
- Which parent is going to move out
- How moving out affects child custody (it does)
- Who is going to pay child support
- Health insurance for the children
- How extra-curricular activities will be paid
- The children’s preference regarding custody
- The best interests of the children
- Developing a post-divorce budget
Ideally, when two spouses get a divorce, they will work out a child custody arrangement through divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce. In these situations, when California couples can agree on a child custody arrangement, they memorialize it in writing in what’s called a parenting plan, which is signed off by a judge and made into a court order as a part of the divorce decree.
On the other hand, if parents cannot come to terms on child custody, then the judge presiding over the couple’s divorce case will have to decide for them based on the “best interests of the child” doctrine.
Special Considerations to Take Into Account
The general school of thought in family courts across the nation is that it’s in the children’s best interests to maintain meaningful and continuous contact with BOTH parents, and we tend to agree. However, we cannot ignore the fact that many families have issues that make it so this is not possible.
A large number of Los Angeles families struggle with alcoholism, drug addictions, mental illness, spousal abuse, child abuse, child molestation and child sexual abuse, and child neglect. Others have parents who are incarcerated for committing state and federal crimes. These issues have a direct impact on divorce and child custody cases in California for reasons we can understand.
If your spouse is physically or mentally abusive, your child custody and divorce case will be handled differently, and for good reason. For instance, if your spouse has been convicted of domestic violence in any court, they may not get custody of your children.
Instead, the judge may decide that they can have supervised visits only, or they may decide that it’s best for your children not to see the abusive parent at this point in time. If you happen to be dealing with a dangerous situation at home, please contact our firm for legal advice – we are on your side and ready to assist you in every way that we can.
Child custody is a critical issue in divorce and we realize that. If you’re looking for a Los Angeles divorce attorney, contact us for a free consultation!