When two people in California become parents, they naturally want to do all they can to be the best parent they can be. They want their child to grow up in a happy, healthy, loving environment. So, while it can be a difficult adjustment, if a child's parents' marriage is failing, it is often better for all if the parents' divorce. After all, after the divorce is settled, a child will no longer be exposed to fighting parents and can develop a separate, meaningful relationship with each parent that will allow them to thrive.
When children are involved in a California divorce, a parenting plan will have to be established. This plan should be made with the best interests of the child in mind. It is hoped that divorcing parents can work together out-of-court to develop a parenting plan on their own. By doing so they have more say in what the final plan will look like, and therefore may be more satisfied with it. Of course, sometimes the relationship between the two parents is so toxic that this type of cooperation simply isn't feasible. In these situations, parents can turn to the court to establish a parenting plan.
Parenting plans should include which parent(s) have legal custody -- that is, the right to make important choices regarding the child's life. Some examples of these choices include where the child will go to school, what religion the child will practice and what doctors the child will see. Unless doing so would not be in the best interests of the child, a court will usually award joint legal custody to both parents. Parenting plans will also include which parent(s) have physical custody and visitation. In general, unless doing so would not be in the child's best interests, courts will usually award joint physical custody to both parents.
At our firm, we aim to assist our clients in their child custody goals. Some parents need an attorney to assist them in negotiating a parenting plan out-of-court and we support this. Other parents need a strong advocate in the courtroom so that an appropriate parenting plan can be established, and we will represent clients in these cases as well. Our child custody overview may be a good resource for parents in California seeking a divorce.