Divorce is stressful for everyone involved, including and especially for children. You’ll want to do your best to try and ease your child through the process as best you can. Working with a family law attorney to figure out your child custody arrangement can help create a sense of normalcy which will allow you to create a safe, comforting “new normal” for your child.
Your Child and Divorce: The Research
How a child will react to divorce is entirely based on their age, personality, and the circumstances of the separation and divorce process. Numerous studies have been done over the years on children of divorced parents in comparison to children of parents who do not divorce.
Research comparing children of divorced parents to children with married parents shows increased risks for the following:
* Children from divorced homes are more likely to struggle academically when compared to children whose parents stay together. It’s also been shown children of divorced parents experience higher levels of behavioral problems, their grades suffer as a result, and so they are less likely to graduate from high school.
* Kids whose parents divorce are more likely to be incarcerated as juveniles for committing a crime.
* Children in divorced homes are almost five times more likely to live in poverty than are children with married parents. This because the custodial parent’s income typically drops after a divorce. This is why it’s important to really ensure that a child is taken care of via alimony and child support payments.
* Teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse.
* Children from divorced homes experience illness more frequently and recover from sickness more slowly, are more likely to suffer from depression, and tend to suffer more frequently from symptoms of psychological distress.
Why Divorce is Hard for Children
It goes without saying that divorce is hard for children. What’s familiar to them – what they’ve most likely known since infancy – is their family. All of a sudden that dynamic is thrown off and they are thrust into a new world where they don’t see their parents as often. It can be very confusing for a child who might not fully grasp the full depths of relationships and how those relationships change.
In addition to feelings of sadness, children can also experience anger about their family changing. Children also often have misconceptions and confusion about divorce and can experience guilt or worry related to those misconceptions. Anxiety is often an emotion that children experience with divorce. There are tons of questions about what the family will be like now, where they will live, what happened, etc… Children may feel torn between parents and experience loyalty conflict. There is a myriad of emotions a child of divorce will feel, so it’s crucial that the parents put the child first and address these feelings head-on.
You’ll want to provide a healthy outlet to process what your children are feeling. You’ll need to help them along the way as they gain skills to cope with their new normal.
“New Normal” and Child Custody Battles
A “new normal” can be a difficult thing to create, especially if you and you ex-spouse are having issues with determining child custody.
If you are going through a divorce or are involved in a tense child custody battle, you know how ugly and hurtful these types of cases can be for everyone involved, especially children. When it comes to legal matters that have a direct effect on your family, such as marriage dissolution, paternity, child custody and spousal support, it pays to have a lawyer on your side who has experience handling such cases effectively and efficiently. That way you can try to avoid a case that ends up being dragged out over months or even years, which is common with some family law matters.
Los Angeles Child Custody Attorney
Determining child custody in a California divorce case is a sensitive, stressful matter that can easily become a point of contention among couples who are unable to agree on a shared plan for co-parenting their children. Our family law attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles have experience guiding divorce clients through productive child custody negotiations and can help you and the other parent create a workable, amicable custody agreement that meets the needs of the two of you and your children as well. In some cases, California child custody disputes can be resolved outside of court, through mediation, but in many situations these family law cases end up going to trial. Either way, our Los Angeles child custody lawyers will represent your legal rights to the full extent of the law.
Understanding Your Child Custody Rights in California
When couples who have children together get a divorce or legally separate, one of their most important considerations should be establishing parental custody and visitation rights. There are two main types of child custody under California law: legal and physical custody.
Legal custody (California Family Code § 3003) can be joint, in which both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about their children’s health, welfare and education, or sole, in which one parent is granted the exclusive responsibility for making these decisions, though the other parent may still have visiting rights. It is the presumption of the court in most divorce proceedings that it is in the best interest of the child to have continuing contact with both parents. However, if the parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, it is up to the court to decide how they will share time with their children. Parents with legal custody are responsible for making the major decisions or choices about their children’s schooling or child care, residence, religious activities, mental health needs, medical needs, travel and extracurricular activities.
Physical custody (California Family Code § 3004) can also be joint, which means the children live with both parents, or sole, which means the children live with one parent for most of the time and may schedule regular visits with the other parent. California law favors joint legal and physical custody when both parents can agree to it. If they don’t agree, the court will establish a parenting plan that is in the children’s best interests.
Filing for Child Custody in California
Parental custody rights vary from state to state, and in California, the courts typically base their child custody and visitation decisions on what is best for the health, safety and welfare of the children in question, whereas in the past, they would typically automatically give custody to the mother over the father. To set up a child custody or visitation order for your children, you or the other parent must request an order from the court. This can happen in one of two ways. If you already have a family court case in progress, for your divorce for example, you can ask for a court date for custody and visitation issues. During divorce proceedings, either parent can file for legal or physical custody of their children, and in order to do so, the parent must file the proper child custody forms requesting a court order that awards joint or sole custody of the children. If you do not have an open case and need to start one, you can file a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children, which allows the court to make custody and visitation arrangements. When making a child custody and visitation decision in California, the court will take into consideration a number of factors, including the following:
- The best interests of the children
- The children’s wishes, if they are over the age of 12
- Which parent is more likely to encourage frequent visits with the other parent
- Any parental history of drug use
- Any parental history of domestic violence
How an Experienced Los Angeles Child Custody Attorney Can Help
Children of divorced parents in California have the right to spend time with both parents, provided both parents are able to keep them safe and can care for them in an appropriate manner. However, when determining what is in the best interest of a child in terms of custody, the court is allowed a great deal of discretion and the judge assigned to your case may consider any number of factors in making his or her decision about where your children should live, and which parent has the right to make the most important decisions about your children’s lives.
Our attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles understand that it is often in the best interest of a child for his or her parents to come to an amicable agreement regarding child custody or visitation, as it avoids your family’s future being dictated by a judge who is unfamiliar with your situation and needs, and we can help guide you through this difficult process in a manner that is satisfactory for all parties. However, if you are unable to agree to custody terms with the other parent and your case goes to trial, our attorneys will represent your case with the competence and compassion a sensitive situation like this requires.
Free Child Custody Consultation in Los Angeles
Divorce and parental custody rights are extremely important family law matters, and California law requires parents who are unable to reach an amicable custody agreement on their own to attend mediation before going to court, where a judge will determine custody. The main objective of our law firm is to help clients reach fair and fast resolutions to their marriage dissolution and child custody disputes, and we are committed to providing you with the personal attention and qualified representation you deserve, from the moment you enlist our help until the last piece of paperwork is signed. If you are involved in a contentious child custody dispute in California, contact our child custody attorneys at Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles today at (213) 550-4600 for a free initial consultation. Our legal team has extensive experience protecting the rights of California parents filing for divorce, and will provide you with knowledgeable, compassionate representation in all aspects of your child custody matter.
Divorce Lawyers Los Angeles
5455 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (213) 550-4600