The divorce and family law process demands that during the most intense shock and sadness of divorce we reach agreement on or fight for the most important issues of our lives – our children and our financial resources.
Every state and county family court system has its own culture and priorities. The one constant is that family law courts strive to act in the best interests of the children. This subtle but important emphasis in perspective can be disorienting to parents, since, when confronted with a threatening situation, we are accustomed to focusing on our needs as adults.
The custody balancing act
Another challenge in dealing with this perspective is that we often believe, and rightly so, that we are being attacked by the other parent’s misguided self-serving attitude. I hear parents say things such as, “I deserve to have my children with me an equal amount of the time,” or the ubiquitous, “but it’s not fair that I should have less time than the other parent.” At the same time it is unrealistic to believe that one parent should control all of the child’s time in the name of providing “stability and structure.”
Generally speaking, family law courts mandate or offer mediation services for child custody issues. These services occur after a custody motion has been filed and prior to the hearing officer making a ruling on your case. This gives the parents an opportunity to reach an agreement that is custom made to their family’s specific needs. If the mediation process fails, then the court will have to make a decision regarding your children’s custody.
There is no custody equation
Focusing on the children’s best interests means it’s not about what we want or feel entitled to, but what experts in the field feel is best for the children. Many parents ask to see the graph the court uses to determine shared parenting time percentages based on the children’s ages. The reality is there is no such graph. Each case is examined and analyzed on its own merits. The courts’ decisions are grounded, however, in clinical and developmental research as well as on the outcomes of the millions of cases handled in family courts worldwide.
I hope this brief overview of some important custody topics was helpful. You’ll find more custody topics addressed in my book, The Custody Manual, which you can download at Apple iBook, Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook book stores.
If you’d like one-one-one support, either in person in Marin, by phone or Skype, please get in touch.