Parents who are facing the end of a romantic relationship often worry about how they’re changing relationship status could potentially impact their relationship with their children. Almost everyone has heard at least one or two tragic stories about a parent who ends up alienated from their children because their ex takes them to court and secures sole custody or simply ignores a shared custody order and deprives them of access to and time with their children.
Thankfully, most of those stories are exaggerated or missing key details that would provide context. There are probably thousands of people in California right now who would like to divorce but worry that trying to change their marital status will harm their relationship with their children. If these people learn more about how California handles custody matters, they may feel more confident in taking action.
What is best for the children is always most important
The family law statutes about child custody in California do discuss the rights and responsibilities of both parents, but the goal in all decision-making should usually be to do what would be best for the children in the family. The wording in family law statutes in California is neutral, meaning it does not refer to a parent’s sex or specific role in the child’s life. In theory, both parents have equal rights to time with their children and a say in their upbringing. It’s typical for judges to grandparents shared parenting time and decision-making authority. The parents can then negotiate specific details about how they share that parenting time and manage decision-making matters for their children in their in-depth parenting plan.
There are “sometimes scenarios” in which a judge determines that granting one parent sole custody would actually be what is best for the children. Typically, they will only reach that conclusion in scenarios involving real risk to the children and documentation of that risk, not just unsubstantiated claims made by either parent.
When either parent interferes in the relationship that the other has with the children or refuses to uphold the terms of a custody order, a parent may have to go to court to enforce or modify the existing arrangements. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about how California family law judges handle custody orders may give people more confidence about the thought of ending their relationship with their child(ren)’s other parent.