The hardest thing about going through divorce has got to be dividing the children. Of course you can’t divide them a la King Solomon, but you can divide the time they spend with each parent. The cardinal rule in determining the timeshare that each parent will have is called the “best interests of the child” rule. That is the one principle that courts apply universally in any Orange County child custody case.
In a child custody case, it is sometimes quite simple to determine what is in the best interests of the child. One parent might be abusive or an uncontrolled alcoholic or drug addict. Obviously, that can’t be a good thing for a child. As long as sufficient evidence is shown, the abusive parent may not get a large timeshare, or may even be subject to monitored visitation in order to protect the children. Time (and therapy) heals all wounds, and even a parent who initially has minimal or monitored visitation can gradually increase his or her timeshare, provided it is in the best interests of the children.
The more difficult custody situations are often where both parents are involved with the children and are positive influences in the children’s lives, but circumstances, such as long distances or other logistical problems keep the parties from coming to a balanced timeshare. Sometimes one parent ends up having a greater timeshare during the school year and makes up time in the summer. More often, the solutions are not perfect, and one parent “loses out” by having considerably less time with the children than does the other parent. Unfortunately, it is an “either or” situation where one parent “wins” and the other parent “loses,” and, although it is probably a close call, the children can only live primarily in one place when a daily or weekly commute is just not possible. This typically happens in “move away” cases.
For most parents, especially those who choose to mediate their custody issues, keeping the best interests of their children in mind (and not necessarily what is most convenient for the parent) helps tremendously when negotiating over child custody and visitation, and working out a parenting plan.
If you have Orange County child custody and visitation issues, either in a divorce, a paternity action, or a post-judgment modification of visitation, why not try using mediation to negotiate a stipulated custody order before you file in court?
Child custody mediation may help to keep matters civil between parents, too. All too often, when filing for a court order, the supporting declaration filed by one parent only serves to inflame the other parent and put them in a fighting frame of mind, which lowers the possibility of negotiating a settlement out of court. Better if the parents try mediation before filing any request for court orders to attempt to negotiate a solution and avoid hard feelings that may come about from the inevitable mudslinging that occurs in court.