Impending divorce encompasses many issues including child custody and child visitation. There are the divorce “discussions,” the property “negotiations,” and, sadly, the custody “battles.” Too many times, the custody battles over custody and visitation end with no winners, only different degrees of losers–emotionally, physically, and financially. And the ones who lose the most are the innocent children. What can you do about it, and how can choosing the right lawyer help?
One of the most important factors in any negotiation is client expectations. While there are some unscrupulous lawyers who run up billable hours promising clients outcomes the courts are unlikely to deliver, a good attorney will counsel you about what to expect and encourage you to have realistic expectations in your child custody determination. They will then be able to help you achieve those expectations and will have a reasonable chance at success in doing so. No attorney can guarantee the outcome of any case and only Judges make court orders as well as Commissioners in San Diego.
The overriding principle guiding the court is “the best interests of the child.” It’s not easy to step back from the emotional drive to “win” and place your child’s needs first. But in the long run, that is a much better solution than spending your child’s college savings to win a few extra visitation points. Consider, under San Diego and California law, that the best interests include bonding, frequent and continuing contact, stability, the current parenting plan and others including who is most likely to cooperate and communicate and share the child or children with the other parent.
Children caught in the middle of protracted custody battles often develop stress-related physical symptoms. Children already feel stressed by the divorce, often wondering “If I had been a better child, would my family still be together?”Children of divorce need extra reassurance that they are loved by both parents. And this love is best expressed in quality time between parent and child, not in behind-the-scenes mudslinging to win an “award” of custody.
Of course, there are circumstances where a child may be in danger from a neglectful or abusive parent. And in those cases, you need a knowledgeable, experienced attorney to present your case. And again, if you can set aside your righteous indignation and adopt a practical attitude, you will be more helpful in preparing that case with supporting witnesses and documentation.
One frequent problem occurs with Parental Alienation Syndrome, when one parent tries to turn the child against the other parent. This can have two devastating consequences. It can backfire, with the child ultimately aligning with the other parent. And if the court finds that PAS has occurred, there can be legal consequences as well. The best policy is the old “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” adage.
Other common issues are parents using the child to keep track of the other parent’s activities. Again, this places the child in an uncomfortable position and only serves to fuel the flames of acrimony. For the child’s sake, it’s best for both parties to respect one anothers’ separate lives unless the child is in danger.
Practical, realistic expectations on your part will help your attorney reach an outcome that represents both your desires and the best interests of your child. For a free confidential consultation about child custody or other divorce issues, call our office at 858-312-8500 or contact us online. We will do our best to give you the best advice and counsel for your case.