Child Custody

09_CASA_433_HIIn today’s world, the divorce rate is high and child custody issues become an important part of legal proceedings in courts throughout the United States. This is especially true where in the state of California, it is the public policy for the parents to share the children equally.  Sometimes, in attempting to reach that goal, the courts will look beyond the concerns of each parent.  That is where an experienced Family Law attorney is extremely important to re-focus the court onto the best interests of the children, which often means that one parent is the primary parent.  That does not mean one  parent is better than the other.  To the contrary it simply means that each parent has put the best interests of the children first.

Child custody can be broken down into two separate divisions: Legal Custody and Physical custody. Physical custody is also referred to as residential custody or primary custody. Primary Custody refers to who child lives with primarily.  Legal Custody refers to important legal decisions regarding the child’s health, education, welfare and upbringing. Both parents can have legal or physical custody of the child depending on the terms in the child custody ruling. Child custody issues are for the most part the most complex in family law cases for the simple fact that decisions made will affect both parents for years to come, but most importantly, will affect the children for their entire lives.  Be Prepared!

 Although you and your spouse are entangled in divorce or dissolution proceedings, you never in your wildest dreams thought the other parent would fight you for custody of your children. Now is not the time to panic. Be prepared for a battle. Time is critical when it comes to child custody battles. Be open and aware regarding the behavior of your soon to be ex-spouse.  Keep a journal or a log with specific dates and incidents as they occur.Keep your thoughts regarding your spouse to yourself. It may be tempting to relate hurts and angry confrontations to friends and relatives, but resist. Once word gets out, the gossip escalates and any bad-mouthing will get back to your spouse.  This is especially true with the content of social media.  For goodness sake don’t post anything on Facebook.  As my father taught me, don’t put anything in writing you don’t want someone else to read.  The most important advice I can give you is to retain an attorney as soon as possible if you believe this will be an issue.  Sometimes, you need to retain an attorney even if you think its not possible that a fight over your children will be an issue.  Leave the court navigating to an experienced lawyer who knows the ropes and as important, has the best interests of your children at heart.  Be prepared to have your life scrutinized in every way.