Going through a divorce can be a potentially life altering circumstance for both parties involved. Both spouses generally feel hurt and wronged by their significant other. These feelings that both spouses foster towards each other during the divorce proceedings often cloud their judgment thereby making it extremely difficult for them distinguish between good and bad decisions. However, if there are children involved in a divorce they usually end up suffering the most. Thus the most difficult decision that a former husband and wife who are parents of children have to make in a divorce is who gets to keep custody of the children? Too often it happens that children are used like pawns in a game of chess by the parents who are getting divorced. They use the children as bargaining chips in a power play.
For any parent that is going through a divorce, it is critical that they work together with the other party to work out a custody arrangement that is mutually acceptable to both spouses as well as beneficial for the children. Generally in California, as in most other states, custody of children assigned by the courts in a divorce are of two types namely, physical and legal custody. Now, each type of custody can be either jointly shared or sole custody where one parent assumes responsibility over the children’s affairs. Let us briefly describe the these two types of custody:
A parent with physical custody of a child has the right to have the child live in their home. Deciding whether or not to request joint physical custody of children depends on a myriad of factors including the preferences of both parents, the ability of either parent to take care of the child or children and the best interests of the children. The majority of parents desire to spend as much time as possible with their children and joint physical custody is an avenue that enables them to do just that. However, if the parents do not live close to each other, it may be frustrating for the children to be juggled back and forth between the parents particularly if it entails any disruption of the social activities undertaken by the children such as spending time with their friends. In many cases, it has been observed that the divorced parents try to use their children as a means of getting back at one another by speaking ill of the other spouse in front of the children and trying to malign their image. If such circumstances are to be expected it is advisable to petition for sole custody of the children.
While the parent having physical custody gets to have the child reside with them, a parent with legal custody of a child has the right to make decisions about the child’s schooling, medical care and other personal activities in which the child engages. Courts usually prefer to assign joint legal custody to both parents, assuming there are no aggravating circumstances that merit sole legal custody. If you and your former spouse share common views on how to raise your children and are not opposed to having open lines of communication with the other party then joint legal custody is preferable in your situation. However, if you feel unable to talk with your former spouse, or if have different or opposing parenting views, it can potentially lead to future arguments, stress and ultimately expensive court hearings. In such a situation, sole legal custody would be a much better option.
If you have children and are contemplating a divorce in California, then it is absolutely imperative that you retain the services of an experienced law firm that practices family law such as Fischer & Van Thiell LLP in order to protect your rights and get the best possible outcome for all parties involved.
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