Contested child custody cases are often among the most contentious, emotional, and difficult cases a divorce lawyer will encounter in family law practice. When the parents cannot agree on a co-parenting plan, everyone involved can quickly find themselves knee deep in wildish accusations, threats, psychological evaluations, expert opinions, depositions and the like. This is needless to say a costly process--not to mention the emotional toll that the custody battle takes on the innocent children caught in the middle.
Fights regarding the custody of children can last years and often the parents won't stop fighting until the children have turned 18 and moved away. The sad thing about custody battles is that most of the time the parents are fighting for their own rights rather than fighting for what is truly best for the children. This is where the law comes in.
The general policy of the State of California is that in family court cases involving children, the best case scenario for the children is that they have equal access to both parents. However, the overriding and overarching guideline by which the family law judge must abide is the best interest of the children standard. Real world application of the best interests of the children standard most often does not jive with the policy that 50/50 custody should be the starting point for courts.
When making a determination in a divorce case involving child custody and visitation, the family law judge must take into consideration several factors that go to the abilities of each parent to provide a safe and stable environment for the children. These factors include: the work schedules of the parents; each parent's ability to provide for the children financially and emotionally; the ages of the children; which parent has been the primary caregiver up until the separation of the parents; and any history of domestic violence, child abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, any history of mental illness etc.
Parents seeking a 50/50 child custody determination need to build their case for consideration by the judge and by the family court services mediator. An experienced San Diego divorce lawyer
can help these individuals put together relevant and helpful documents and exhibits which should be considered by the mediator and will be considered by the family court judge.
These exhibits should include: declarations from third parties testifying to a close relationship with the children; involvement in day to day activities like school, sports etc.; overall character as a responsible and loving parent; pictures with the children showing that they are happy; and pictures of the house or apartment showing that a clean and safe environment can be provided for the children. These are among a few examples of the packet of information and evidence that should be presented as part of a child custody case.
Preparation is everything in a contested child custody case. Always remember that the judge is not a mind reader. The family law judge has not seen a parent in the backyard throwing the baseball with their son, or sitting at the kitchen table helping their daughter with her homework--it is the parent’s responsibility to get this information into court for consideration.
If a husband or wife says something in a declaration that is disagreed upon, evidence contradicting the accusation must be provided. A qualified San Diego divorce lawyer can advise these individuals on key pointers on the evidence that will be needed to counter false accusations made by a spouse or significant other in the child custody case.
Attorney John Griffith of Griffith & Young is a San Diego Divorce Lawyer with offices located in downtown San Diego and Solana Beach near Encinitas, Del Mar, and La Jolla, California. The family law attorneys at Griffith & Young have had great success representing clients in all types of family law cases and are ready to help you with yours. Call now for a free consultation at 858-345-1720 and visit their website to read up on some of their recent courtroom victories at www.SanDiego-Divorce-Law.com.
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