Why Your Child Custody Agreement Rarely Works Out the Way You Plan

San Diego, CA – Couples going through a divorce in California face many complex issues, particularly if there are minor children involved. One issue that is sure to get complicated is the issue of child custody.

CA Child Custody

Child custody issues are either resolved by agreement or by Court order. The best result for every family is for the parents to come together and agree to what is best for the children.
A child custody agreement, or co-parenting plan, sets for the parenting schedule that the parents intend to follow. These agreements should be as detailed as possible in order that both parents have the same expectations.

Even with an ironclad agreement, obstacles are bound to manifest.

Family law attorney John Griffith of Griffith, Young and Lass in San Diego, California is well familiar with the complications that can occur in many child custody agreements.

“In my practice, I see many couples who think they have a good handle on the child custody agreement,” Griffith says. “Yet things rarely work out the way the couple expects.”

Primary and Shared Custody

One area Griffith says is most fraught with trouble is deciding who will be the primary parent. The primary parent is the parent that has the majority of the custodial time with the children.

He adds that, while both parents should be involved in major decision making, the primary parent generally schedules appointments and takes care of the day to day care for the children. Parents often disagree on various child custody related issues, but the focus should always be on what is best for the children.

If parents can’t agree on what is best for their children, then a judge will decide.

Griffith says, “Family court litigates are rarely happy with a judge dictating how they are going to parent their children. It’s best to keep you case out of court.”

He further asserts that clients should get a cohesive agreement down in writing so that the judge doesn’t have to be involved.

Dating and Step Parents

Griffith also points to the issues that can occur when one or both parents begins dating following separation or divorce.

“When there’s a step-parent in the home, that’s when emotions can run high,” says Griffith. “It’s difficult for fathers, for example, to envision their children living in a home with another man who may be imposing discipline or who may be present during important milestones, and vice versa.”

Griffith says that he has seen cases where shared custody parents try to restrict visitation due to another person moving into the family home.

Griffith advises not to go against court orders or else the court could become involved.
“To keep emotions from running rampant, I advise my clients not to allow children to call the step-parents mom or dad,” says Griffith. “And I try to remind my clients that no one can replace them in their children’s’ eyes. They will always be their kid’s mom or dad, no matter what.”

Moving the Children Out of State

Finally, Griffith says that moving children out of town is always an issue that co-parents never expect.

“Even if a parent plans to take the children on vacation out of the county or out of state, the other parent can prevent that if it’s not listed in the final divorce decree.”

Griffith says that, for best results, both parents should try to envision every possible scenario and get the child custody agreement down in writing before they go to court to avoid these types of complex situations.

He says that no matter what the state of the current or past relationship and regardless of how the parents plan to co-parent their children, it is always wise to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

To learn more or to get answers to these and many more family law questions, contact Griffith, Young and Lass in San Diego, California by contacting our office.

About Griffith, Young and Lass: The family law attorneys at Griffith, Young and Lass are compassionate, experienced and aggressive. They are experts in all variations of family law including but not limited to divorces and separations, prenuptial agreements, domestic abuse cases, child support orders and property division.

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