Custody is one of the most trying aspects of a divorce. Your children are important to you, regardless of the difficulty surrounding your separation. Whether you need to revisit your child custody agreement or are drafting an initial contract, an experienced San Diego child custody attorney can inform you of your rights and ensure your best interests are represented.
What You Need to Know About Custody
Coordinating schedules isn’t easy – but you will have to make some sacrifices. In California, if a custody agreement cannot be reached, the final verdict is up to the judge’s discretion. Thus, working out a fair schedule is often the best solution for both parties.
In general, there are two types of custody arrangements you must address:
- Physical custody. Physical custody regulates the amount of time parents spend their kids. If you are trying to reach an agreement about alternating weekly schedules or holiday visitation, it falls under this category. This is the primary cause of disagreement between parents, but cooperative parties can work to ensure a fair arrangement.
- Legal custody. This area concerns the right to make parenting decisions, which often concern issues regarding health or education. Parents may share these responsibilities.
Within these broad categories, attorneys may recommend:
- Joint custody. This is an excellent option for parents who divorce under amiable conditions and want to work as closely together as possible. For example, parents can share the rights outlined by legal custody, such as where the kids attend school. Joint physical custody means the parents will spend time with their children – though the amount may not be evenly divided.
- Sole custody. One parent is given legal rights over his or her children. Sole physical custody means the child lives with one parent, though the other may be granted visitation.
Shared-custody situations work best when parents cooperate. This may be easier said than done, but if you keep a few priorities in mind, you can reach a fair agreement.
Make the Most of the Situation
Assigning custody is difficult, and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. It’s equally easy to compromise your rights by mistake. Speak with a divorce attorney in San Diego, CA with successful experience handling child custody cases to make sure you understand what you’re entitled to. Throughout negotiations with your former spouse, keep the following priorities in mind:
- Put your kids first. The rest of these issues hinge on this crucial point: Shared custody only works if both parties focus on what’s best for the kids. Consider your child’s age and his or her interests, personality, and preferences. When you sit down to work out a visitation schedule or joint schedule, be realistic about your limitations and commitments and how they may affect your kids.
- Watch what you say. Slandering your spouse may affect your custody arrangements, and in court, it can affect your credibility. Judges will consider each parent’s attitude and disposition, so this is an important behavior to monitor. Furthermore, insults can affect your kids, who will likely maintain a relationship with you and your spouse.
- Agree on how you’ll communicate. There are plenty of mediums you can choose, whether it’s through Google calendar or text messages. The important thing is that you specify a platform. This will help keep you and your spouse on the same page, and it can mitigate many issue that could lead to disagreements.
With these tips in mind, you can make a custody arrangement work. A joint schedule can include everything from 2-2-3 day plans (i.e., Monday and Tuesday with mom, Wednesday and Thursday with dad, and interchanging weekends) to alternating weeks. Your San Diego family law attorney can help you organize any documentation you’ll need, and if there are any problems with reaching an agreement, he or she can advise you how to proceed in your child’s best interests.
Be aware of your rights, and revisit the custody agreement if you feel you are unfairly represented. Contact the San Diego attorneys at Boyd Law for more information.