Having children can be the most rewarding thing in life. But even if you develop a strong bond with your kids, your relationship with them can be put at risk if your children’s other parent seeks sole custody or tries to limit your parenting time. In other instances, parents find themselves concerned with their children’s safety and wellbeing while in their other parent’s care. Regardless of the situation, if you’re worried about your child custody and visitation arrangement, whether generated through divorce, through a paternity case, or through a modification of an existing custody agreement, then you need to be prepared to argue why that agreement isn’t best for your children.
You might be able to negotiate resolution to a child custody dispute, but if you can’t then a judge will decide the matter. When making a child custody decision, the court will look at what type of arrangement best supports the child’s best interests. A best interests analysis includes assess the following:
- The health and safety of the child
- Any history of neglect or abuse
- The amount of contact between the child and parents
- The relationship of the child with each parent
- The presence of any parental substance abuse
Some of these considerations are broad in nature, thereby leaving the door open for you to develop strong legal arguments to support your position. For example, the health and safety surely means his or her physical health, but it can also encompass mental and emotional wellbeing. So, if you’re able to present evidence of emotional distress while in the other parent’s care, then you might be able to achieve a favorable outcome.
There are two important things to note here. First, you need to take a holistic approach to your child custody dispute. Leave no stone unturned when trying to prove that your proposed custody arrangement is best for your child. Second, be prepared to defend yourself. As much as you try to paint your child’s other parent as unfit, he or she will try to do the same to you.
These are emotional matters that can quickly get complicated. That is why many Californians who are facing child custody issues choose to seek help from a family law attorney who will fight for them and their children.