What are some factors I should keep in mind about child custody?
No one article can include everything you need to know about custody and visitation rights in California. This is because of the many factors that can affect child custody, such as the death of a parent, loss of parental rights, spousal abuse, child abuse or divorce. The good news is that there are processes in place to make this process easier for parents and children.
According to the California Courts, mediation is mandatory before taking the case to court. When parents attend mediation or recommended counseling, a trained professional then listens to both parents’ concerns and helps them to develop a parenting plan.
Parenting plans may help to reduce the likelihood of future disagreements. The written agreement does not just detail how much time the child will spend with each parent. It also details how both parents will come together to make decisions related to the child’s education and welfare.
To protect the child’s welfare, some courts may decide that one parent must have supervised visits. The “supervisor” is not the other parent, but a neutral party. Supervision is perhaps most common in instances where there was a history of mental illness, substance abuse or family abuse. Supervised visits may also be put in place if one parent believes the other may kidnap the child.
Note also that after a divorce or separation, parents are not the only adults who have an interest in maintaining a relationship with the child. Grandparents may wish to establish their rights as well. In fact, not only can grandparents establish reasonable visitation rights, but they may obtain primary custody of the child. This helps to provide a stable home environment in instances where children do not currently live with either of their parents.
Custody battles can be bitter and intense. As upset as parents and grandparents may be during proceedings, it is the children who tend to be the most negatively affected. For this reason, when it is possible to reach a peaceful agreement that ensures the child’s wellbeing, it might be a route worth undertaking with an open mind.