Divorce can be a difficult process for kids. Knowing some tools to help children cope during divorce can be helpful to their short-term and long-term success. Working with a family law attorney to help guide you through a workable custody arrangement can help create a sense of normalcy for your child.
What The Research Says
“The breakup may be painful, but most kids adjust well over time.” Scientific American Mind
Every child is unique and special and will react differently to their parents getting a divorce. Age, personality, and level of involvement in the divorce process can have a big impact on kids during divorces as well. Studies have shown that with a few simple steps from parents, kids can and do have a rapid recovery and bounce back after the initial blow from a divorce. (Scientific American).
What Should I do?
Explaining divorce to a child may be difficult; studies have shown that the best way to explain divorce to a child is by using short simple phrases that kids can understand. (Toddler Health, What to Expect). Some suggestions are to (1) Break the news as a couple: if kids can see that you are your current spouse are working together in the divorce process, they may have an easier time grasping what is going on. (2) Focus on your child’s life and try to keep things as similar to “normal” as possible. Including: keeping up with appointments, social activities, and other normal routines (3) Leave out the details: don’t share the reasons that you and your current spouse are separating, but do tell your child that he or she is not the cause of the separation in any way (4) Reassure them: let your child know that the divorce is no way linked to anything that he or she did and that you and your current spouse will be happier apart than together. (Toddler Health, What to Expect).
Why Divorce is Hard for Children
Divorce can be very hard on children. What is familiar to them is going to change. Some children will experience sadness and anger, but mostly children are very confused. In some instances children will have lots of questions about what the family will be like now, where will they live, and how are things going to change. The key take away from the research on this topic is that it is very important that parents put their child’s needs first and face the questions they might have head on.
Child Custody Attorney
Child custody matters in a California divorce case can be sensitive and stressful. If parents are unable to create a co-parenting agreement that will work for them, often times a family law attorney can assist. Family law attorneys are negotiators who have experience assisting parents with creating a custody agreement that will meet the needs of both parents and their children as well. In some cases, parents are unable to agree on a co-parenting custody plan. An experienced family law attorney can assist with filing of motions, the mediation process, and hearings, if necessary.
Types of Child Custody in California
There are two types of custody in California, both are important to understand.
Legal custody (California Family Code § 3003) can be joint, meaning that both parents share the right and responsibility to make important life decisions about their children’s health, religion, welfare, and education. Sole legal custody is where one parent is granted the exclusive responsibility for making the decisions regarding the child’s health, religion, welfare, and education decisions. This does not mean that the other parent cannot see the child, rather that they are not responsible for making the above listed decisions for the child. Courts in California presume it is in the best interest of the child for parents to share legal custody and have contact with both parents. If the parents are unable to agree on how to parent their child, Courts will intervene, if necessary, to help decide who should have legal custody.
Physical custody (California Family Code § 3004) can be joint, meaning that the child lives with both parents. Physical custody can also be sole, meaning that the child lives with one parent for most of the time and may schedule visits with the other parent. California law favors both joint legal and joint physical custody when both parents agree to it and absent any reason for one parent to have more or sole custody over the other. If parents cannot agree, the court will establish a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interests, given the circumstances.
Filing for Child Custody in California
California Courts usually base child custody and visitation orders on what is best for the health, safety, and welfare of the child – the Courts no longer favor one parent over the other or presume that the mother is a better parent than the father. To establish a child custody order for your child, one parent must file a motion with the court to request to be heard. If you already have a family court case in progress, including a divorce case, you can file a request for order to establish child custody and/or support – this applies to both legal and physical custody. In most cases, the judge will refer your case to mediation, where a trained professional will hear about your child, the situation, and what you would like to have happen in terms of custody. The mediator will then make recommendations that get sent to the judge for a decision and order to be made from. If you do not have an open case and would like to start one, you can file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children, which prompts the court to make a child custody arrangement. When making a custody order, California Courts take a number of factors into account, including but not limited to: the best interest of the child, the child’s wishes (depending on age), and any history or abuse or violence.
How an Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help
Family law attorneys know it is often in the best interest of a child for the parents to come to come to an agreement regarding child custody themselves. Once a custody matter is in the hands of the legal system, a judge will be making decisions they have very little information about. Hiring a family law attorney to assist in negotiation of custody matters is one way to negotiate what is best for your family with your ex-spouse. If an out of court agreement will not work for the situation, an experienced Pleasanton CA family law attorney can help represent you in your case with care and understanding of the difficult legal process.
Child Custody Consultation
If you are involved in a child custody dispute in California, or you would like to establish a new custody order, contact our child custody attorneys at Tierney Law Group, PC today to discuss your options and best course of action at 925-362-3364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our lawyers have extensive experience and success in representing parents in divorce and custody matters and will provide you with excellent customer service, compassion, and a tailored legal plan to meet your needs.
-Katlin N. Law
Attorney at Tierney Law Group, PC