While divorce means the end of a marriage, it also means a change in your relationship with your children. There is no doubt that your love for your children will not change, but the amount of time you spend with them and how you parent may change dramatically with a divorce.
This is especially true when you and your partner cannot agree on the issues of child custody, support, and visitation. Making decisions about where children will live and how their expenses will be paid can be some of the most difficult and emotional issues in a divorce.
You and your children deserve the best. You owe it to both yourself and your children to fight for your rights regarding custody, and seeking the help of San Diego custody rights lawyers is a great start.
Important Factors that Guide Child Custody Decisions
When both parents want primary custody of the children, California courts use two important factors to decide where the children should live.
1. Safety and welfare of the children
The most important factor guiding a judge’s decision must be the safety and welfare of the children. Physical and emotional well-being may be in jeopardy if children are placed in certain environments, so judges try to assess the safety of each prospective home to decide which is best suited to be the children’s primary residence.
2. Frequent and continuing contact
While the judge may decide that the children should live with one parent, unless there is a good reason to the contrary, most judges want to see the children visit the other parent on a frequent and continuing basis. The only time judges limit visitation is usually when one parent has proven to be a danger or risk to the children.
Other Relevant Factors Affecting California Custody Decisions
While the court’s primary concerns are the safety of the children and their rights to see both parents, there are other factors that can affect a custody decision. These include:
1. Which parent was the primary caretaker of the children during marriage?
2. Is there an existing parenting plan?
3. Is there a history of domestic violence on the part of either parent?
4. Is there a history of alcohol or drug abuse on the part of either parent?
5. Is the environment where the children would live stable?
6. Are the children old enough to express their own wishes about custody, living arrangements and visitation?
Types of Child Custody in California
There are two types of custody in California: joint custody and sole custody.
Joint Legal and/or Physical Custody
Joint custody is actually an umbrella term for several types of physical custody. The underlying idea of joint custody is that both parents make decisions and share in the care of the children. Joint custody can mean that the parents share legal custody, physical custody or both.
Sole Legal and/or Physical Custody
Sole custody, unlike joint custody, gives one parent the sole right to make decisions or have the care and control of the child. Sole legal custody gives one parent the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, healthcare and other important decisions. Sole physical custody means that the child only lives with one parent but may visit the other parent on some type of schedule.
Many parents are able to negotiate a parenting plan of their own for the children. This is always preferable than allowing the court to make decisions about the custody and care of your children.
How San Diego Custody Lawyers Can Help
While it may be emotionally draining to fight for child custody, you can be successful in fighting for the best interests of your children. Contact the San Diego custody lawyers at the Men’s Legal Center at (619) 234-3838 today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how to protect your rights and those of your children.