Dos and don'ts for child custody cases

Child custody is complicated, emotionally trying and life-changing. When it comes to a divorce in California, the outcome of the custody case may be the single most important thing that you want to focus on. As such, you need to know the following dos and don't.

The first thing you definitely want to do is to focus only on the child and his or her best interests. Parents sometimes see custody battles as a way to get back at a spouse they are angry with, but this shouldn't be your focus.

You also want to consider the realities of the situation from the child's perspective. What does the child have to do regarding work, school and after-school activities? How can the custody arrangement be catered to work for that schedule and not against it?

You also need to make the child feel at home in either house. It's important for the child to feel valued and to have his or her own space.

One thing not to do: if you have more than one child, do not split them up. It may make sense to you for one parent to get one child and the other parent to get the other, but it can be very unfair to the children and make them feel unloved or unwanted. It also harms their relationship with each other.

Another thing to do is to make sure you don't put the entire choice on the child's shoulders, telling him or her to pick a parent. The child's wishes should be respected and an opinion can be sought, but it's not fair to make the child choose when the child never chose a divorce to begin with.

As you go through this process, keep these things in mind and be sure you know how to legally work through all of the steps.

Source: Enlighten Me, "Child Custody Dos and Don’ts," accessed June 24, 2015

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