When going through a divorce with children, the child custody and visitation negotiations can be some of the most difficult parts of a divorce to agree on, which means the court usually has to get involved. Many people are confused as to what the court takes into account when awarding child custody, and they come to us with a number of questions. Here are a few of the more common ones and some generalized answers.
Do courts automatically prefer mothers?
It used to be true that courts tended to side more frequently with a child’s mother in a divorce and child custody case. However, in recent years this has since changed and both spouses are now required by law to be given equal consideration for child custody. It’s important to note that this is only true if a child’s parents are married. If they are not, a father must establish legal paternity in order to maintain his claim to visitation and custody rights.
Can my child choose which parent they want to live with?
It is not uncommon for a judge to take the testimony of a more mature child into account when making a custody decision. However, this is not the only factor; if the parent the child chooses will clearly be worse for their well-being, they may choose to go with a different parent anyway. For example, if one parent has a documented history of abuse or alcoholism, the court most likely will choose not to award them custody, even if a mature child requests it.
What are different types of custody?
There are two different types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is which parent has the responsibility for physical care of the child, while legal custody is the ability to make decisions regarding important factors, such as where children go to school, what kind of healthcare they will receive, and what kind of religion they will be taught (if any).
What if I have to move after getting a divorce?
This isn’t unheard of; sometimes people get a new job in a new place or need to move to be closer to family after a divorce. If you have full custody in both the physical and legal sense, you will likely be able to relocate without issue. However, if you are sharing custody, you will likely need to petition the court to allow your relocation with the children. If the other parent contests this, it is strongly advised you seek counsel from an attorney.
At Fair Cadora, APC, our counsel has provided guidance for those going through the divorce process. Our San Diego family attorneys know the stress and difficulties a divorce case can bring, which is why we strive to provide all of our clients with compassionate and reliable representation. Attorney Lauren Fair has been named a Board Certified Family Law Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization.
Please call the firm today to schedule a consultation to discuss your options.