The Far-Reaching Implications of a California Child Custody Dispute

Divorce is rarely a pleasant experience, but of all the painful family law-related issues that come along with divorce cases in Los Angeles, the most devastating are often the bitter child custody battles between parents who are unable to reach an amicable custody agreement. Take professional tennis player Victoria Azarenka, for example. The 28-year-old just recently returned to tennis after being embroiled in a bitter custody battle that caused her to withdraw from the U.S. Open and other international tennis tournaments last year, including the Australian Open and the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. If you are involved in a child custody dispute as part of a Los Angeles divorce or legal separation, our knowledgeable attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles can help. Contact our legal team today at (213) 550-4600 for a free initial child custody consultation. We have the skill and experience necessary to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your California child custody dispute.

Divorce and Custody Disputes in Los Angeles

When a married couple with children files for divorce in Los Angeles, they are faced with a number of important and difficult decisions, including the issue of child custody and visitation rights. The primary considerations that come into play in Los Angeles custody proceedings are parental consistency and stability, both of which are considered positive forces in a child’s life. No longer does custody automatically go to the mother in California child custody disputes; the mother and father are considered equals in the eyes of the court and are therefore equally entitled to custody under the law, so long as the presence of either parent in the child’s life is not detrimental to his or her well-being. In the state of California, if parents are unable to agree on a child custody and visitation arrangement that suits them both, they will go to court, where a judge will establish a parenting plan that takes into consideration the best interests of the children. Unfortunately, in contested divorces, the issue of child custody is often a contentious one and in these cases, the legal battle can drag on for months or even years.

Adverse Effects of Child Custody Battles

Child custody disputes can have a significant adverse effect you, your former partner and your children as well, resulting in strained familial relationships and possibly even negatively impacting your career. In Victoria Azarenka’s case, the tennis star, a finalist at the Open in 2012 and 2013, was finally able to travel to Spain earlier this month to compete in her first European tournament in 10 months, after being limited to competing in WTA events held strictly in California. And while she kicked off the tournament with a 6-3, 6-3 win that launched her into the second round, her most important victory was the fact that she had her son Leo in tow. Just last year, Azarenka was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open due to an ongoing custody battle with her former partner, Billy McKeague, which prevented her from taking the couple’s son out of California.

The Belarusian returned to the tennis tour last June, following the December 2016 birth of her son Leo, but then put her career on hold again after a California judge ruled that the baby could not leave the state of California until the matter of the child’s custody was resolved. The months-long custody battle, which followed her separation from the baby’s father, ended up barring Azarenka from bringing her son with her to New York to compete in the U.S. Open. According to reports, Azarenka was unwilling to leave her son behind in California, where he was born and where the tennis star trains and has a home, and so she pulled out of the tournament.

Why Hiring an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer is Imperative

In the midst of last year’s legal fight with Leo’s father, Azarenka penned an open letter on Twitter, writing “As we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the U.S. Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California, which I’m not willing to do.” The 28-year-old tennis star revealed that she was “faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away,” adding that “no one should ever have to decide between a child and their career.” At that time, Azarenka also wrote, “I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete, but, more importantly, to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents.”

Formerly number one in the world, Azarenka was forced to put her career on hold so as to not harm her chances of winning the legal battle with Leo’s father, and she slumped to number 99 in the world in the process. In January 2018 though, Azarenka scored a major win in the custody battle when the California judge agreed with the tennis star that the case didn’t belong in California, but in Belarus, where Azarenka was previously awarded primary custody of the child. As a result of the ruling, Azarenka is now permitted to travel with her child outside of California. Victoria Azarenka’s contentious child custody situation, which she called “Hollywood-worthy,” is unfortunately not all that uncommon in California. Custody disagreements between divorced or separated parents in Los Angeles can quickly escalate to bitter courtroom battles, and these types of cases require the expertise of a Los Angeles child custody lawyer.

What Happens When One Parent Files a Child Custody Action

The primary focus of the California court system in child custody cases is the well-being of the children involved, and that often comes into play in situations where a parent wishes to relocate the children to another city or state, either temporarily or permanently. If one parent files a child custody action with the court in California, a restraining order that prevents the parents from taking the children across state lines automatically goes into effect. At that point, if the other parent wants to remove the children outside of the state, they will have to get a specific court order or obtain the other parent’s consent to do so. In cases where the health or well-being of the children is at risk, the court may intervene with an emergency ruling to implement immediate custody modifications. In Azarenka’s case, however, a tennis tournament would likely not have met the standard for an emergency ruling that would have allowed the 28-year-old to travel to New York with her son.

Free Child Custody Consultation in Los Angeles

Divorce and child custody issues are among the most contentious family law cases in Los Angeles courtrooms. The factor that has the most significant impact on child custody rulings in California is that both parents have frequent and continuing contact with the child, barring any situations where a parent’s presence is detrimental to the child’s well-being. However, divorced or divorcing parents are rarely able to agree on important legal issues, least of all how they will share custody of their children. Our family law attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles have extensive experience litigating child custody disputes in California and are committed to helping parents create an amicable custody agreement that is in the best interests of the children involved. Consult our family law lawyers at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today for qualified legal help.