Couples who are separating will ultimately face the issues surrounding child custody and divorce in California. Losing time with your child can be a very frightening idea. Unfortunately, when a separation or divorce with a former partner is disputed and all matters are decided by a court, then child custody issues are often highly contested. However, when handling the divorce on your own, without involving attorneys, you may have more flexibility in reaching a resolution that best address all of your concerns.
Addressing Details – Child Custody and Divorce in California
In a child custody dispute the main focus is always the best interest of the child. This is the language of the standard that is used by California judges when hearing custody disputes. This standard takes into account a variety of factors, such as the child’s age, the parents’ work schedules, the parents’ relationship to the child, etc. This standard should be your guide as you create a new lifestyle for yourself and your child. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. Where will my child attend school after our divorce?
Divorce generally results in at least one parent moving away from the family home so this is a key interest for planning a schedule. Depending on how far you and/or your spouse move from your child’s school, this issue alone may play a major part in determining physical custody.
2. Does my child have any special needs?
California Courts often consider the medical, emotional, or psychological needs of a child when considering what is in the child’s best interest. Whichever parent primarily cared for these needs prior to the divorce may be the parent who continues to care for these needs. If both parents assisted equally, or are able to do so after the divorce, this issue may not play into the judge’s decision at all.
3. What is a reasonable way to divide our special occasions?
When discussing physical custody of your child, it is best to make concessions for special occasions from the beginning. This type of planning will help avoid conflict or last-minute arguments as the occasions arise. You ought to discuss with your ex-spouse, child, or attorney the plan for occasions such as birthdays, holidays, school vacations, family vacations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and long weekends.
4. Will my ex-spouse and I be able to co-parent?
This question is critical. The term custody encompasses two legal terms; legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody agreements identify where the child will live and at what times. Legal custody agreements identify which parent or parents will make decisions about medical, religious, and educational questions. Both types of custody can be joint (shared) or sole. If you and your ex-spouse’s relationship is such that decisions can no longer be made together, you may want to consider seeking sole legal custody. However, if communication about your child is easy and not a problem, joint legal custody may be your best option.
5. Do I have any concerns about my ex-spouse caring for our child?
You must ask yourself if your ex-spouse understands age appropriate activities for your child. Are your ex-spouse’s family members going to be caring for your child at times? Does your ex-spouse have the proper car seat or seat belts in their car? Do they smoke or drink around your child? Do they understand your child’s dietary needs? If you have concerns about care which will be given to your child in your absence, it is important that you raise them before a custody decision is made. Changing a custody agreement is not as easy as starting a new one.
Low-Cost Help For Child Custody and Divorce in California
If you need to address issues about child custody, child visitation and child support in a divorce or other type of proceeding in California and want to avoid the high cost of attorney’s fees, contact A People’s Choice for low-cost help. You can also visit our website for more information about issues of child custody and divorce in California. A People’s Choice can help you in preparing all the required legal documents without having to hire a lawyer. Although A People’s Choice cannot give you legal advice, we can help you prepare a mutually agreeable child custody agreement or help you file the necessary paperwork in order to bring the issues of child custody, child visitation and child support, and other divorce related issues before the court if necessary.