Going through a divorce is often a difficult experience. When child custody is an issue, making good decisions with regard to your children is key. Most parents want to maintain a close relationship with their children following divorce, hoping to share in their day to day lives. With this in mind, establishing favorable child custody arrangements is very important.
All state courts make custodial decisions based on the best interests of the children involved, although their definition of ‘best interest’ may vary somewhat. In most cases the best interest standards strive to protect a child from being moved out of one home into another simply because the parents are divorcing. The advantage is given to the parent who has either resided separately with the children leading up to the divorce or the one who has provided the highest percentage of care when deciding where and with whom children will primarily reside.
The custodial parent formula thus translates into the best care with the least amount of change to maintain stability. This results in the physical custody being granted to the parent that can offer the least amount of disruption to their children by maintaining a connection with their child’s existing home, school and neighborhood. If physical custody is granted to only one parent in the interests of the children, the other parent may still share legal custody, which confers the right to make important life decisions for your children such as religious upbringing or other important decisions.
If you are deemed a non-custodial parent, the court will issue a written custody order detailing visitation rights. This order will outline when and where visits with your children will take place and the transportation arrangements that will be followed. The visitation order may extend to include visitation rights for grandparents or step-parents if it can be demonstrated that it is in the best interest of the child.
The order has the force of law and non-compliance will result in legal consequences if either parent does not honor the arrangement. In the event a custodial parent refuses to follow a custody order, you may request the court to enforce the order. Keeping records of visitation violations is necessary to prove your rights are being denied so that action may be taken.
The custody order is not set in stone. If you did not request or receive custody of your children in a divorce, you may request visitation rights be granted or increased through a post-divorce modification. Positive life changes, such as remarriage, may result in additional visitation rights because of the enhanced stability you can offer your children. Conversely, if you believe changes in your ex-spouse’s life may negatively impact your children, visitation rights may be reduced or cease all together if you can provide proof to the court that the conditions have an undesirable effect on the children.
Navigating divorce is difficult and the best interests of children are a priority for parents. Thoughtful child custody arrangements can make the transition smoother for your kids. If you are considering divorce and have child custody questions, contact the Offices of Schlesinger and Strauss, LLC. We have over 40 years of experience helping families with family law issues including divorce, child custody, father’s rights and grandparent’s rights. Contact us today!
Source: latimes.com, “For Divorced Parents: Know Your Child Custody and Visitation Rights”, accessed October, 19, 2014