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Child custody is one of the most challenging components of the divorce process for many parents. The California Courts, on the whole, urge both parents to participate actively in the child-rearing process, presuming both parents are kind, caring, and capable of raising their children. A child custody case will arise when both parents want to have the children the majority of the time, or when both parents want to petition the court for sole physical possession.
The courts will generally lean toward a joint custody agreement if the parents are both normal, happy, healthy people who do not have a substance abuse problem or a history of domestic violence. This is because the family courts believe it is in the best interests of the children to be raised by both parents rather than just one.
On the other side of the coin, if one of the parents has a history of neglect, abandonment, child abuse, spousal abuse, substance misuse, or a criminal record, the other parent may seek sole physical and legal custody of their children from the court. In such circumstances, the court will carefully consider the issue. The courts value parental rights and will not grant sole physical possession to one parent without considering the best interests of the child.
Do you have a child custody battle on your hands?
If you believe a child custody battle is on the horizon, there are steps you can do right now to strengthen your case. Here is what we suggest:
1. Write everything down. Everything that has to do with child custody should be documented, especially throughout the separation phase and after the divorce. Describe your attempts to see your children, including drop-offs and pick-ups, as well as each occasion the other parent failed to appear or arrived late. Document the information of any important witnesses, such as a doctor, teacher, or neighbor, in case they are needed at a later date.
2. Make sure your home is safe & clean. It’s critical to provide your children with a safe and clean home environment. Ascertain that kids have enough bedroom furniture and bedding, as well as a safe environment. Keep your fridge and cabinets stocked with lots of food when your children are with you.
3. Do not employ young babysitters. Babysitters under the age of 13 or 14 should not be hired since they may be too immature to properly care for your children. You don’t want your ex-spouse to go to court and claim that you hired an eleven-year-old to watch your kids while you went out with your pals on a Saturday night. It not only makes you look bad, but it is also dangerous for your children.
4. Be conservative with your social media. Avoid uploading photos of yourself consuming alcohol, wearing “clubbing attire,” smoking, or generally partying because this will reflect poorly on you during a child custody dispute. Your ex and their attorney can and will use anything “questionable” you post on social media against you.
5. Date with caution. Don’t date on “your nights with the kids” if you’re just starting out. You should not hire a babysitter for a date on a Friday or Saturday night. Instead, plan all of your dates with your children when they are with the other parent. We don’t advocate introducing anyone to your children until you’re: 1) officially divorced, and 2) in a serious relationship with someone you’ve been seeing for at least six months. If you start dating while you’re still married, or if you abandon your children to spend time with your new boyfriend or girlfriend, your child custody case may suffer.
6. Consider putting your kids in counseling. Consider having your children receive professional counseling if they are having trouble coping with the divorce. The family counselor may be willing to testify in court, and if not, they may be willing to provide the court their opinion on the child’s needs, which can be very helpful to the judge.
7. Stay active in your children’s lives. Use the time between your divorce and the birth of your children to become even more involved in their lives. Volunteer in their classroom, drive them to extracurricular activities, and attend all sporting, music, and dance events if your schedule allows. It’s critical to be involved in your children’s life in any manner you can.
8. Be clear about an older child’s wishes. While the court will make the final decision in a child custody case, they will listen to and consider the preferences of an older, more mature youngster. Be aware that if your child is 12 or 13 years old or older, the judge will be interested in their wishes. However, just because a 16-year-old wants to live with his father because he is wealthier or “doesn’t have any regulations” doesn’t imply the teenager will achieve his wish.
9. Be in habit of making sound parenting choices. “Should I allow my child to spend the night at a friend’s house on school nights? “Should I allow my child to skip breakfast and dinner?” No. “Can I give a sip of wine or beer to my sixth-grader?” This is not a good idea. “Should I tell my adolescent that smoking is acceptable as long as they are not at home?” Never! When it comes to parenting, you must make informed decisions. It’s not in her best interests, and it’s not in the best interests of your child custody case, if you let your 14-year-old daughter date a college freshman.
10. Set and enforce reasonable curfews. If you have teenagers, impose a sensible curfew similar to what a cop would impose on his own children. Allowing your teenagers to come in at all hours of the night is not a good idea. This is regarded as negligent parenting.
11. Refrain from leaving your young children home alone. You should not leave your children alone at home if they are under the age of thirteen. If you’ve been leaving your eight-year-old at home while you go to work, change your ways. Young are prone to opening the door for strangers, starting a fire in the kitchen, falling down the stairs, choking, drowning, electrocuting themselves, being hit by a car, and many other horrible possibilities. When you leave a youngster alone at home, a lot can go wrong.
12. Be on-time when picking your children up. Don’t leave your children at school late every day, or even once a week. Don’t leave your kids in school for hours, waiting for you to come pick them up. Always be on time whether dropping off or picking up your children for any activity or event, or to see the other parent!
Contact Spodek Law Group for a free case consultation if you need assistance with a child custody dispute. We can be reached at any time.
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