As a business owner, juggling your professional and family obligations can be difficult, to say the least. You have two constituencies whose needs deserve priority for different reasons; and, in many cases, satisfying one constituency (i.e. your children) can mean sacrificing the needs of the other (i.e. your clients or customers).
While balancing your work and family lives can be challenging even under “normal” circumstances, getting a divorce can add an additional layer of unneeded complexity. This is true not only with regard to managing the divorce process itself but also with regard to making sure you protect your right to raise and spend meaningful time with your children.
Seeking Custody or Visitation as a Business Owner in California
Whether your goal is to secure primary custody or to secure visitation rights that fit with your daily work schedule and business travel needs, you need to approach the determination of child custody in your divorce with the same care, forethought and strategic planning as you would any other major challenge at work or at home. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
1. In Custody Determinations, the Child’s (or Children’s) Best Interests Always Come First
In California, all custody determinations focus on the best interests of the child (or children) involved. This means that your desires (and your spouse’s desires) are secondary to your children’s financial, emotional, environmental, and educational needs. In order to secure your desired custody or visitation rights, you will need to be able to demonstrate that your proposed arrangement tips the scale of California’s best interest factors in your favor.
2. If You Want to Make it Work, You Can Make it Work
If you expect your spouse to challenge your desired custody rights based upon the demands of your business, you will need to be able to convincingly show that you have a plan to adequately meet your children’s needs. Under the right circumstances, this can be done even when long hours or frequent travel require a parent to spend a significant amount of time away from home.
3. An Amicable Approach Is Always the Best Strategic Approach
Even if you are prepared to fight for the right to spend time with your children in court, it may be more effective (and more efficient) to take an amicable approach. As a starting point, California law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests to spend at least some time with each parent; and, if you can work with your spouse to develop a parenting plan that meets the children’s needs as well as both of your respective emotional and practical needs, you may be able to negotiate a favorable outcome without resorting to litigation.
4. History is a Factor
When assessing what is in a child’s best interests, history is a factor. How much time have you devoted to your children in the past? What about your spouse? Does your spouse have a history of substance abuse or foregoing time at home for social engagements? All of these are potentially relevant considerations; and, if history is not on your side, this is an issue you will need to begin to rectify sooner rather than later.
5. There are Alternatives to Traditional Custody-and-Visitation Arrangements
Finally, while many parents assume that their options are to either obtain primary custody or to be relegated to visitation time every other weekend, today there are numerous alternatives available. From joint custody to co-parenting arrangements, there are several ways that business owners can structure their custody rights in order to favorably balance their work and family lives after a divorce.
Contact Richard M. Renkin, North County Divorce Attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist
If you are a business owner in North County, San Diego and you are preparing to go through a divorce, we encourage you to contact us for more information. Attorney Richard M. Renkin is a Certified Family Law Specialist who has more than 25 years of experience representing clients in high-net-worth and high-conflict divorces. To request an appointment at your convenience, please call 619-299-7100 or tell us how to reach you online.