For business owners and professionals who spend the majority of their daylight hours at the office, securing a desirable custody arrangement is a critical aspect of the divorce process. Whether you want to have primary physical custody, spend time with your children on weekends, or retain your right to have input in your children’s important life decisions, you need to have a plan, and you need to execute a strategy designed to secure your desired outcome through negotiations, mediation, or at trial.
California’s child custody laws are complex, and the San Diego County family courts consider numerous factors when establishing and approving child custody awards and parenting plans. To improve your chances of obtaining favorable custody rights in your divorce, here are seven tips from Certified Family Law Specialist and North County divorce lawyer Richard M. Renkin:
1. Understand California’s “Best Interests” Standard for Child Custody Determinations
The first step toward obtaining your desired custody plan is to understand the factors that go into California child custody determinations. Like most states, California has adopted a “best interests of the child” standard that allows divorcing spouses and family law judges to accord due weight to a variety of different factors depending on the particular facts and circumstances involved. We have outlined these factors in our child custody FAQs.
2. Have a Plan for Work Days and Travel
Who will take care of your children while you are at work? Who will drop them off at school in the morning (if not you)? Who will pick them up in the afternoon? What arrangements will you make for your children’s needs while you are traveling on business? In anticipation of your divorce, you should develop a well-thought-out plan so that you can avoid running into questions you cannot answer.
3. Avoid Creating Evidence Your Spouse Could Use Against You
When preparing to go through a divorce, you need to be very careful about avoiding mistakes that could come back to haunt you. One common mistake that many people make is putting things in social media and/or in writing that would have been better left unsaid. Before you text or email your spouse or put something on FaceBook, think about whether what you are about to say (e.g., “I can’t pick up the kids today because I’m too busy at work”) could end up being used against you in your divorce.
4. Be Prepared to Negotiate
Unless you take your divorce to court, you will most likely need to be willing to compromise in order to bring your marriage to an end. As a result, in addition to considering your own goals, think about your spouse’s likely goals as well, and think about what approach may be most effective in arriving at a (favorable) negotiated agreement.
5. Anticipate Your Spouse’s Arguments Against You
Is there anything unfavorable in your recent personal or family history that your spouse may be able to use against you in your custody battle? While more-severe issues such as substance abuse and domestic violence can certainly play a role, lesser factors can often add up to make it difficult to secure desired custody rights as well.
6. Document Your Current Relationship with Your Children
In addition to considering anything negative that might be out there, you should also work on building your affirmative case for custody. What can you use to show that you have played an active role in your children’s lives? What can you start to do now (such as attending school functions or sporting events) that will help bolster your argument for custody?
7. Make Sure Your Current Plan Will Work Long-Term
Finally, when thinking about what you want now, it is important to consider whether your plan will also work long-term. Modifying child custody orders can be challenging (and judges often look upon parents’ requests based on personal considerations unfavorably), so you need to make sure that your proposed custody arrangement will work now and in the future.
Schedule a Case Evaluation with North County, CA Divorce Lawyer Richard M. Renkin
With offices in North County, attorney Richard M. Renkin represents business owners and professionals in divorce proceedings throughout the San Diego area. If you would like more information about the steps you should be taking to prepare for your divorce, call the Law Office of Renkin & Associates at 619-299-7100 or inquire online today.