News organizations across the country have covered the child custody dispute between Deion Sanders and his estranged wife, Pilar, with unrelenting fervor. The drama that unfolded in the courtroom for the six days while the trial lasted could rival the antics of a reality T.V. show. Many would agree that the most unfortunate part of this ordeal is that the children are inevitably at the crux of this contentious battle. If you are a parent contemplating divorce, you are encouraged to contact an experienced, compassionate San Diego Family Law attorney who can help guide you through the process, all the while taking into account the best interests of your children.
In California, there are two kinds of custody: legal and physical. A parent who is awarded legal custody is given the authority to make important decisions for the children concerning items such as health care, education, and welfare. The parent who has physical custody is the person the children live with. Sometimes parents share legal custody so that both are involved in making the significant decisions affecting the child. When parents share legal custody, they each have the right to make such decisions on their own – and while they do not have to agree on every decision, it is best to try to come to some mutual understanding so as to avoid a visit to court later.
Courts may also award parents joint physical custody, thereby splitting up the living arrangements so that the children spend time living with each parent. There are many options that the court has, depending on the circumstances in each case. The most ideal situation is one that the parents agree to up front, to avoid having a court impose a decision. Unfortunately, in the Sanders case, the parents not only could not agree on a child custody arrangement, but they battled in court with the world as their witness.
According to a news article, after a weeklong court proceeding, the jury awarded Deion Sanders full legal and physical custody of his two sons, ages 13 and 11, but ruled that both parents would share custody of their daughter who is nine-years-old. The jury took just under two hours to render their decision, which does not cover child support matters or the possession schedule of the children.
Pilar Sanders was reportedly “flabbergasted” by the jury’s decision. Throughout the trial, the parties presented allegations of steroid use, cheating, and violence on behalf of both parents. In awarding Deion physical and legal custody of the boys, the court is giving him the authority to decide where they live, go to school, and many other significant decisions in the children’s day-to-day lives. The parents will share these responsibilities with respect to their daughter.
In most custody cases, each parent ultimately wants what is best for their kids. Sometimes they are willing to fight over it. In this case, the Sanders children were subjected to two feuding parents, insulting each other in a courtroom. While the jury’s award took place in a Texas court, and is not binding on child custody matters in California, there is much to be gleaned from this case, most notably, the importance of considering the best interests of the children in a custody dispute.
If you are a parent with questions about child custody and visitation matters, you are encouraged to contact Doppelt & Forney. Mr. Doppelt is a knowledgeable family law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing parents in Southern California. Doppelt & Forney serves clients in Linda Vista, Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a free consultation with a dedicated and experienced family lawyer, contact Doppelt & Forney through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
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