One of the most important legal concepts in California divorce law is embodied in the phrase "best interests of the child." Whenever a divorcing California couple has one or more minor children, issues such as child support, child custody and visitation will be resolved based upon the court's judgment about how a proposed solution will affect the best interests of the child. Any parent who is facing a potential divorce may wish to become familiar with the factors that determine a child's best interests.
For Californians about to begin a divorce proceeding, child custody often looms as the most difficult issue to be resolved. Unfortunately, many divorcing parents reduce this issue to the simplistic question of "Who gets the kids?" As demonstrated by a review of the state's child custody laws, child custody in California cannot be reduced to this single question.
All California couples with minor children who are ending their marriages must prepare a joint parenting plan, sometimes called a "custody and visitation agreement." Some divorcing spouses use child custody and visitation issues as weapons to bludgeon the other spouse into making concessions on other issues, such as property division. Most couples, however, want the best for their children after the divorce becomes effective, and they are usually willing to invest the time and emotion that is required to forge a beneficial parenting plan.
Child custody and visitation can be two of the most contentious issues in a divorce in California. Many people in Sacramento who are contemplating a divorce regard child custody and visitation as the most difficult questions that must be resolved in a divorce, but sometimes, the circumstances of the parents may prevent a complete resolution regardless of the terms of the court's order for visitation. In such cases, the parties may wish to consider supervised visitation.
A divorce can trigger ugly emotions for one or both spouses, especially if young children are involved. In some divorce cases in Sacramento County, one or both spouses will accuse the other of being an "unfit" parent. On some occasions, this accusation is merely the product of one spouse's anger toward the other spouse. On others, it is an attempt to injure the other spouse by preventing access to the children. And, on some occasions, the accusations are true. What happens then?
One the most vexatious post-divorce issues is enforcing an order for child support when one or both of the divorced parents has moved to another state. Fortunately for California residents facing this problem, the state has enacted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), a law that significantly eases the problems of enforcing a support order in another jurisdiction that has adopted the same law. The law was adopted by California and the other 49 states in response to passage of an amendment to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
Of all the issues and disagreements that may arise in a divorce, child custody probably generates more emotional distress than alimony, property division and child support combined. Some divorcing parents use custody of the children as a weapon, while some genuinely believe that the other parent is not fit to have any sort of custody of the children. Many divorcing parents do not understand the different kinds of custody that are allowed under our state's law.
A divorce is a devastating event in the world of a California family. While the parents must work through the complicated steps of separating their lives, their children must learn to live new lives that place their parents in different households. Because divorce can be hard on youths the courts and their parents are required to preserve the children's best interests when making decisions about their custody and care.
California judges have broad powers to resolve the many issues in a divorce. Refusal to obey an order establishing the parties' rights to child custody and visitation can result in a citation for contempt of court, a fine, and, in extreme cases, criminal charges. A recent child custody incident in Northern California demonstrates the sort of extreme behavior that can lead to unhappy results for all concerned.
When a Sacramento couple decides to end their marriage, providing for the welfare of their children is one of the most important issues they will face. Unfortunately, divorcing spouses often do not view the issues involved in their children's welfare in the same light. A jointly drafted parenting plan can be a very helpful tool in resolving disputes about child custody and visitation.