In California, child custody schedules can look very different from case to case. The custody arrangement that is appropriate for your family after a divorce will depend on your child’s needs and best interests. Joint custody arrangements are common, as the courts believe it is best for a child to remain in continuing contact with both parents post-divorce. A joint arrangement does not necessarily mean a 50/50 custody schedule. Getting the arrangement that you want may take assistance from a child custody lawyer.
Divorce Settlement vs. Trial
The easiest solution for parents seeking a 50/50 custody agreement in a divorce is reaching a settlement. This is a legally binding contract that both parties sign off on, agreeing to the terms of the divorce. A settlement prevents a divorce case from going to trial. A couple has the right to create their own parenting plan before the courts in California will intervene.
Reaching a settlement may require mediation or arbitration, but it will still be faster and cheaper than going to trial. Alternative dispute resolution can be a good way to communicate with your spouse and come up with a 50/50 custody schedule that works for both of you outside of court. A settlement can keep the parents in control of the final custody arrangement rather than giving the decision to a judge.
What Do the Courts Look for When Determining Child Custody?
If you and your spouse cannot work together and agree on a 50/50 parenting schedule, you may have to argue for your desired custody arrangement at trial. The main determining factor for a judge deciding custody is the child’s best interests. This is defined in California Family Code Section 3020 as the legal and physical custody arrangement that will ensure the health, safety and welfare of the child.
California law goes on to say that its public policy is to ensure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after they have separated or dissolved their marriage. The courts encourage parents to share custody and come up with a joint arrangement that works for all parties involved. The only exception is when continuing contact with one parent would not serve the best interests of the child, such as in a case involving abuse or neglect.
Evidence to Gather for Your Custody Case
If your divorce case goes to trial, an attorney can help you gather evidence to fight for the child custody decision that you desire. Evidence involved in a custody case often includes character witnesses to speak on behalf of either parent, logs of interactions between the child and parent, messages exchanged with the other parent, records and documents, photographs, journals, psychological evaluations (if one parent’s mental capacity is questioned), and any other information deemed relevant.
How a Child Custody Attorney Can Help
A child custody attorney in California can encourage you and your spouse to communicate openly and effectively to improve the chances of achieving a divorce settlement agreement. You can hire a lawyer to act as a mediator, for example, or to represent you during mediation for more effective conflict resolution. This can increase the odds of signing off on a 50/50 child custody plan with your co-parent.
It can be even more important to hire an attorney, however, if your divorce case is going to trial in Los Angeles. In this case, a lawyer can help you gather evidence and present your case effectively to a judge. A lawyer can help you prove that a 50/50 split is what is best for your child after a divorce. Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable child custody lawyer can improve your legal experience and change the outcome of your case. For more information, request a free consultation with a child custody lawyer at Boyd Law.