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How to Avoid Ending Up in California Court Arguing About Child Custody

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In some California divorce cases, the court decides child custody. To avoid releasing the power to determine child custody to the California court, parents simply have to agree. We say simply, but in many cases, there is nothing simple about coming to terms on the custody of the children.

How Can Divorcing Parents Resolve Child Custody?

1.    Informal Negotiations between the Parents: If parents in a custody dispute are willing to work together informally to resolve custody and visitation issues, they can negotiate their own agreement.

2.    Informal Negotiations between Attorneys: Parents in a custody dispute who are willing to work together informally to resolve custody and visitation issues often prefer to have their positions negotiated by an attorney or have the agreement they settled on their own reviewed by an experienced attorney before finalizing the deal. Parents who wish to agree outside of court, but who are not able to decide on their own frequently depend on their divorce attorneys to manage the negotiation. Attorneys negotiate terms until both parties can agree on a written agreement or “parenting agreement.” 

3.    Negotiations through Divorce Mediation: Mediation can be beneficial for those wishing to resolve child custody issues, particularly when agreement depends on the degree to which parents dispute critical matters of custody and visitation and the parents’ willingness to work together to reach an agreement. Mediation is usually less contentious and more casual than other forms of custody dispute resolution and frequently facilitates and earlier settlement. It also allows parents to play an active role in resolving critical issues related to custody and visitation rather than losing that power to a judge.

4.    Traditional Court Setting: In a traditional court setting, the family court judge assigned to the case makes final decisions regarding custody. The majority of custody cases reach a resolution before they end up before a family court judge.

In California, mediation is mandatory when there is a dispute over the custody of the children. When mediation is unsuccessful, parents can attempt to resolve custody through informal negotiations between their separate attorneys. If this is unsuccessful, the issues will need to be decided by the family court judge.

Regardless of how parents reach an agreement on child custody and visitation, the result is a written document finalizing their agreed-upon terms, which is then offered to a judge for final approval. As long as the terms of the agreement do not seem to blatantly favor one spouse over the other, agreements between parents almost always receive court approval. Once approved, the agreement becomes legally binding.

If you are struggling to come to an agreement regarding child custody or visitation, please don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from one of the experienced California divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm. Even if you are working together with your spouse to resolve custody issues, you may still need legal counsel before you attempt to finalize your agreement. We are experienced in custody negotiations and can help protect your interests without jeopardizing the negotiations.

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