14 Apr Children’s Interests First in a Custody Battle
If you and your spouse, or partner, are in the process of legally separating or considering divorce, one of your first concerns will be about the future welfare of your joint child or children. It may be that you and your partner or spouse will come to an amicable agreement about who is going to care for your children, what access there will be and what decisions each of you will be able to make about your children’s future. As far as your children are concerned this would certainly be the best option.
Unfortunately, not every separation or divorce is amicable and in fact such a decision often turns into a battle for custody. Most custody disputes over children end up in the California Family Court if a settlement before actual separation or divorce is not a possibility. Here are some guidelines to give parents an idea of the process that might be involved.
The first thing to understand is that the Family Court is not a perfect vehicle and there are limitations in the way it operates. However, if you and your partner or spouse cannot agree on how you decide on custody over your children, a Family Court judge is ultimately going to be the one who makes a decision.
While the Family Court does have some limitations which will be discussed a little later, one overriding principle that governs any decision the judge will make is that your children’s interests come first. It’s easy to forget that when you are in a state of emotional turmoil. It’s possible that the antagonistic and negative feelings you have for your partner or spouse can affect your own judgment about what is best for your children.
The Family Law Court’s limitations
The Family Law Court here in Orange County has some really fine judges and generally speaking it makes sensible decisions about child custody and other issues that are brought before it but there are some limitations of any family law court which you should be aware of.
You may want your case heard as soon as possible, but this will not necessarily happen. Your custody case will be heard when it can best fit into the court’s own timetable.
The judge sitting on the day your case is heard may or may not be acquainted with the specific details of your custody dispute. It all depends on the judge involved and whatever else is dominating his or her attention. In some cases, the judge may not even learn about the background to your custody dispute until the court hearing itself.
Not every family law court judge has the same experience in family law. This may come as a surprise but reflects the way judges get on the bench. Some may become judges after many years as a family law attorney, but just as likely they may have gained their legal experience in some other area of the law.
Judges do not necessarily take too much notice of everything that you and your ex-partner or spouse might say about each other. This is one indication that their main focus will be on getting an idea of what will be in the best interests of your child or children and not necessarily trying to sort out why you are separating or attempting to persuade you not to do so.
Your financial situation
Another limitation that you may come up against is your own financial situation. Litigating in a family court costs money and you and your partner or spouse may not be in an evenly balanced position when it comes to being able to have the resources to fight a custody battle. This shouldn’t deter you, but it is a factor that can affect how long and how difficult the legal battle over custody can be. Again, the over-riding principle that should dictate what you do should be what is in the best interests of your children. Prolonging a custody dispute in order to score a point over your ex partner or spouse may not be financially sensible as well as not in the interests of your child(ren).
The value of a family law attorney
There is little value in trying to fight a custody battle all by yourself. It is far better to talk to a knowledgeable and sympathetic family law attorney such as Damian Nolan at the Law Offices of Damian Nolan as soon as you can. The attorney can advise you about
- how to seek a temporary court order to obtain custody over your children while a more permanent decision is pending;
- how to best communicate with your partner or spouse without
- how to obtain temporary support for you and your children if money is tight;
- what to do if there has been a history of abuse or violence in the family either to your or to your children or both.
The use of an experienced family law attorney can prepare you properly for a family court hearing and give you a greater chance of ensuring your child(ren) get the best outcome possible. The Law Office of Damian Nolan in Long Beach and Lakewood, California can be contacted at 562-634-1115.