Whether you are separating from a spouse or have a paternity action, the children often get caught in the middle. It can be difficult for parents to think about not spending all their time with their child, but the fact remains that, if parents are no longer together, this is impossible. A Carlsbad child custody lawyer from Erica Bloom Law can help create a custody arrangement for you and your children.
Children deserve to spend time with each of their parents, and child custody orders are designed to ensure that happens on a safe level for everyone involved.
Our team will help guide you through the process and ensure you are asking for an arrangement that is in the best interest of the children, to make certain they can enjoy quality time with both of their parents (when it is safe to do so).
In establishing child custody, there are several things the judge will look at to make the appropriate recommendation. In order to ensure you get a custody arrangement you are comfortable with, we recommend working with us to mediate an agreement between you and the other parent. This is the best way to maintain some control and give your children the time they need with both parents. However, if you can’t come to an agreement, we will help you create a request that is more likely to be looked at favorably by the judge in your case.
When left up to the judge to decide, there are a number of factors that will come into play, including:
Balancing a child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs will always be the primary concern of a judge when finalizing a child custody arrangement. They will assess the type of impact that each parent will have on the child’s development and overall well-being. This is to ensure that the custody arrangement is positioned to create a stable and nurturing environment for the child, with as minimal disruption as possible from a divorce.
A judge will also look into a child’s typical routine, ties to their community, and educational opportunities to ensure that they will not miss out on anything that is important to their growth.
A judge must evaluate each parent’s capacity to provide a safe and stable home for their child. This includes looking into both their health and financial stability. They will also examine past behavior as a way of better understanding what their future performance may be.
For example, if there is any history of substance abuse or neglecting their child for less important activities, this could encourage the judge to give the other parent sole physical custody and only grant the other parent visitation rights.
If a child is old and mature enough to express a preference, it will be considered. A judge will listen carefully to ensure that the opinion a child is expressing is genuine and not anything that was influenced by one of their parents. While preference alone won’t dictate a final decision, it is weighed into the other factors that help indicate which arrangement is the most favorable option for their livelihood.
How strong of a bond a child has with each of their parents, in addition to other relatives like grandparents, is crucial. The judge assesses how important these relationships are in the child’s life and will try to devise a custody arrangement that preserves them as much as possible. Any area of a child’s life where they are receiving consistent emotional support is imperative to their development. This cannot be overlooked when finalizing a new custody arrangement.
Even if there is no indication that either parent is unfit, having a taxing work schedule or lack of availability can reduce the amount of time that a custody arrangement will allow them to see their children.
For example, if one parent has a job with 80% travel and would need to find a babysitter multiple times a month, the court may decide that it makes more sense for the other parent to have a majority of custody. If the parent with an aggressive work schedule decides to obtain a new job in the future to better accommodate their children, the custody arrangement can be readjusted to the new work circumstances.
If a child has any special medical, educational, or emotional needs that need to be closely tended to, the judge will evaluate which parent is better equipped to meet these needs. They will also consider who has the most access to necessary resources, such as a medical facility or education center. The parent’s understanding of and commitment to addressing these needs is also critical to assess, as it directly impacts the child’s health and development.
Before heading to court, it is important not to discuss custody arrangements with the children. If the judge decides to talk to a child, it’s critical the child is able to articulate their feelings without the influence of what a parent may have said.
The end goal is to ensure every child gets the chance to have a happy, healthy relationship with both parents.
A judge will consider several types of evidence when making a final custody decision:
Providing detailed logs or calendars that show exactly when each parent spends time with their child can be a highly influential piece of evidence in a child custody battle. It can illustrate the consistency and quality of interaction that each parent is able to have with the child.
These records also show how much each parent has been willing to get involved with the child’s day-to-day activities, such as sporting events, school runs, or even something as important as doctor appointments. It’s not uncommon for courts to look into these types of documents to better understand what type of bond already exists between a child and their parents.
Various forms of communication, such as texts and emails, can help reveal how well two parents are able to communicate and co-parent. However, these communication records can also indicate where there may be conflict and struggle. The courts hope to see positive and respectful communication to support any request for a joint custody arrangement, but any pattern of hostile or uncooperative exchanges could jeopardize the final custody arrangement.
Obtaining letters from neutral third parties, such as a child’s coach or teacher, can greatly help to establish a parent’s character and reputation. It can attest to a parent’s level of responsibility and stability, along with how much their character influences the child’s well-being.
While it might not heavily factor into a final decision, a judge is often curious about an outsider’s opinion on what they believe would be an appropriate living situation based on their experiences with both parents.
When two parents decide to divorce, a judge will have to determine the current status of a child’s well-being. Evidence that can help demonstrate this would be report cards from school or medical documents that detail their physical and mental health. This provides insight into whether the child’s needs are being met.
However, certain circumstances, such as failing grades, may indicate that some other external factor is having a negative influence. If the child has seen a therapist or school counselor, their testimony is also a credible piece of evidence that gives insight into the child’s emotional and psychological state.
In the era of social media, a parent’s online activity is a newer piece of evidence that has been used to influence a child custody decision. For example, if a parent has posted inappropriate content online or has violated a court order on their social media platform, it can be used against them in a custody battle.
On the other hand, a parent’s online presence can also showcase their positive involvement and relationship with their child. Social media can help or hurt a case, but it has made its way into family court proceedings and, therefore, should be taken seriously.
Mediation offers an alternative resolution method to the traditional court process. Some key aspects to better understand how mediation functions include:
Mediation offers a private and structured environment where both parents are able to come together and communicate their concerns and desires as they relate to child custody arrangements. The mediator listening to both parents is a neutral third party who will facilitate the discussions to help both parents focus on the needs of the child.
One of the main goals of mediation is to reduce how much conflict exists between both parents. This is done by providing a space where cooperative problem-solving and direct communication are encouraged. It can help slowly move both parents away from a confrontational position and more toward a collaborative approach.
The process of mediation can ultimately allow parents to have more control over the outcome of the custody arrangement. Advancing the case to court puts the final decision in the hands of a judge. Keeping this outside the courtroom empowers parents to work together and create their own customized custody arrangements. That way, they can find one that they both feel most suits the realities of their new family dynamic.
Mediation has the power to lay a strong long-term foundation for better communication and cooperation between both parents. By enabling them to work together and reach an agreement, parents may find that they have developed a better understanding of each other’s position and are more motivated than before to co-parent. Creating this harmonious co-parenting arrangement has a direct benefit on a child’s emotional well-being.
One of the most unsettling parts of dealing with a custody battle for some people is the fact that it has to be done in the public sphere. In court, a lot of personal details can come up that each parent may otherwise prefer to keep private.
Mediation allows this to happen. It’s a confidential process where discussions happen behind closed doors and are not part of a public record. This level of privacy is why many ex-spouses find mediation to be a compelling alternative for negotiating their own child custody positions.
Many divorcing couples find that mediation saves them a ton of time and money as compared to advancing their disagreements to court. This happens because it often leads to faster resolutions, with fewer legal fees, than advancing the case to court would. While it’s important not to compromise on custody issues for the sake of saving on legal fees, many couples still feel that mediation is worth trying for that reason.
While it may initially seem like mediation was a waste of time if you were unable to resolve the issues between each other, the process can still be useful to help prepare for court. For example, there may be specific issues that were clarified in mediation that provide a better sense of each parent’s position in court. It can also prevent any surprises in court, as both parties were able to disclose their positions beforehand.
The court in California must approve an appointed attorney to represent the child. A parent can request an attorney be selected, or if both parents agree, they can enter into a stipulation for the Minor’s Counsel to be appointed. However, only the Judge in California can assign a Minor’s Counsel.
Judges usually like to look ahead as far as possible when making custody arrangements, but sometimes there are situations that may arise that require adjustments to be made. While it’s acceptable for parents to deviate from the schedule when agreed upon, if the changes will be long term, it’s best to go to court for a modification, especially if you can’t agree.
Changing the order legally will protect both parties in case the other individual decides the arrangement no longer works.
However, it’s important to make sure you are seeking a modification for the right reasons, which is why you need to talk to experienced Carlsbad child custody attorneys beforehand.
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