If you've ever discussed divorce with family members or friends who have gone through it, you may have heard stories of various challenges they faced, perhaps regarding property division or parenting issues. The latter may be on your mind a lot lately as well if you're currently preparing for child custody proceedings in a California court. Like most good parents, your children are your highest priority; that's why you want to make sure you protect their best interests when the court makes decisions about their care.
There are several things to think about when navigating custody proceedings. Beyond the typical issues, such as where your children will live, whether your ex will pay support, and who will get the kids for holidays and special events, there are also ideas to consider that may help you avoid major obstacles and keep stress levels to a minimum. If problems do arise, it's critical that you know where to seek support.
Can you settle out of court?
Before you head into litigation, you may want to take a step back and ask yourself if it is absolutely necessary. Many parents are able to formulate agreeable post-divorce parenting plans and settlements through peaceful negotiations. The court needs to approve any plan you and your former spouse devise, but if you're determined to keep costs low and complete the process as painlessly and swiftly as possible, out-of-court options might best fit your goals.
Is there an extenuating issue the court should know about?
The last thing you want is for the court to issue an order regarding custody or visitation that you believe may not be in your children's best interests. For instance, if you think your ex has a substance abuse problem, it's worth investigating before receiving your court decree. Issues like substance addictions will influence the court's decisions.
Are you kids in danger?
If at any time before, during or following custody proceedings you think your kids are at risk by being in the presence of their other parent without another adult present at the time, you can seek immediate support to address the matter. The court may decide to order supervised visits only.
The more you know about your parental rights and how to protect them, the better. Protecting your rights and serving your children's best interests may be closely intertwined. One thing is sure: You do not have to sit back and do nothing if you believe your former spouse is impeding your parent-child relationships or you have evidence that he or she is not adhering to an existing court order. You can take immediate action to resolve such problems through the proper channels.