Separation and divorce are difficult under any circumstance. When there are children involved, their emotional, physical and mental support needs to take center stage.
It may become difficult for parents to hash out a custody and visitation plan amid a turbulent and contentious uncoupling. If the situation requires a court to step in, the judge will do whatever is in the children’s best interests. Thus, keeping the children’s needs at the forefront of custody disputes may save time, money and stress for everyone.
Understanding legal custody options
Child custody in California refers to who gets the legal right to make decisions on behalf of the children. The court prefers that parents share equally in legal custody, granting them both an equal right to:
- Access medical and educational records
- Decide medical intervention and treatment
- Attend religious services
Some personal situations may make joint legal custody unacceptable in the eyes of the court. If a parent has a violent criminal history or has other demonstrated an inability to parent, the other adult may receive full legal custody.
Negotiating a time-sharing plan
The other requirement of a custody determination is the time the children will spend with each parent. A parenting plan is a document that the court requires before granting a divorce or ruling on custody. It sets out the schedule for where the children will live throughout the year. The plan is also an agreement that the parents cooperate to ensure that the children do not feel burdened by their differences.
When parents split, the children often get caught in the middle. Understanding what goes into a custody determination may help parents focus on the children’s need for a meaningful and loving relationship with them both.