Custody battles are often painful. The emotions involved in these cases understandably run high, and sometimes what’s best for the child or children involved can get lost in the midst of disagreements and arguments.
It’s always best when parents can agree on their own custody arrangements – it’s less traumatic for kids, and it saves both parties time and money. However, some custody battles are inevitable. In those cases, many people find it helpful to enlist the help of an experienced child custody lawyer who can make the process run more smoothly.
In many cases, joint custody is the best solution for families. However, if there is evidence that dual custody may be detrimental to the health and welfare of the child, the courts will act accordingly.
As always, your attorney will probably recommend that you and your ex attempt to reach an agreement on your own. While judges do their best to remain fair and impartial, they cannot possibly know the ins-and-outs of your family situation – at least not as well as you do.
It is easier on your entire family, as well as on your wallet, for you and your spouse to come to an agreement together. While it may be difficult to do, remember that if you are unable to agree, you will force the judge in your case to make a decision – and it may not be the best decision for your family. Once the judge rules, you are legally ordered to comply; you can appeal the judge’s decision, but it will take more time and cost more money.
One of the main things the court considers in child custody cases is the child’s overall health and safety. If the parents contest custody, the court will look for a history of drug use or alcoholism when determining where the minor will be placed.
The law does not allow judges to grant unsupervised visitation or custody to a parent who has been convicted of first-degree murder, or of sexual or physical child abuse.
Under some circumstances, the judge can ask either parent to take a drug test before determining custody. A positive drug test does not bar an individual from gaining custody, although it will be considered by the court. The judge will consider any drug convictions over the past 5 years, along with evidence of persistent drug use, when making a child custody determination.
If there is a history of domestic violence in the home, the court may choose not to award custody to the guilty party. However, it is possible in some cases, particularly if the accused abuser attended parenting class or participated in another type of rehabilitative education.
As part of the many factors courts consider regarding a child’s best interests, California laws require judges to look at several aspects of the child’s wellbeing.
The courts may consider the child’s preference when determining custody. The child must be mature enough to make such a decision, although California law does not set a specific age.
California courts may also look at each parent’s ability to provide emotional support and a positive influence to a child. Judges must consider whether each parent has continued to maintain contact with the child and whether either parent has tried to undermine the child’s relationship with the other parent.
Stability is a key factor, especially after a divorce, that judges consider when determining custody; they’re looking for an established pattern of care.
A child custody case can be emotionally draining, and in these tense situations, it’s good to have informed, focused, and experienced legal support on your side.