Clients often start their initial consultation with that question. "How do I get child custody?" is at the forefront of their minds because, regardless of the size of the estate or the financial issues in the case, their children are the most important asset and the ones they wish to protect.
But how you get child custody starts with another question - what is in the best interest of the children as defined by child custody laws in California? In this article, we are going to look at a "need to know" list, all within your control, to help you act in your children's best interest during a custody case.
"How do I get child custody?"
1. Don't use children as leverage nor allow the other parent to do so
I am amazed how often parents forget this. Fortunately, with our clients, we ensure through the initial consultation process that the parent we intend to represent understands how important it is to not use children as leverage during the custody case and certainly not permit the other parent to do so.
The types of leverage most common and what most often gets parents in trouble include:
- Seeking a visitation order to artificially increase or decrease time not because it's in the children's best interest but to change child support.
- Trying to outspend the other parent in custody in the hopes of a surrender on custody
- Not settling property or financial issues to put pressure on custody issues
2. Don't alienate the children or tolerate alienation
Alienation occurs in many forms. False accusations of child abuse, false allegations of domestic violence, disparaging comments about the other parent in front of the children or allowing third parties (especially grandparents) and other forms of indirect attacks on the children's psyche can have a significant impact on child custody matters and can cause the alienating parent to lose custody. Parental alienation in child custody cases is a subject we have written about before and we encourage you to read our articles on it.
3. Take physical abuse and false allegations of abuse seriously
Domestic violence and child abuse in a custody case is serious and should be taken seriously. If you are a victim of serious domestic violence or your children have been subjected to child abuse, think twice before agreeing to joint legal or joint physical custody. Anger management, parenting classes and real change is often necessary before an abusive parent should be permitted to have frequent and regular contact with the children.
At the same time, those who make false allegations of abuse are a very real threat to the children's best interest. Those who make false abuse allegations should be treated like abusers.
4. Create a stable and loving home life for your children
This is within your control. Take the emotional trials and tribulations that come with child custody cases and leave them outside the home. Children don't want to be and should not be exposed to your child custody case. Protect them and, if you find the other parent not doing so, bring his or her conduct to the court's attention
5. Know when it is time to settle your child custody case
There is a time to take your custody case before the judge and a time to resolve it. Knowing the right time for each can not only help your pocket book but it can save your children aggravation. This is where experienced lawyers can help.
Got more questions? Contact our attorneys today for an initial consultation.
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