Updated: Jun 9
Securing and Protecting Your Parental Rights in a California Custody Battle
Unfortunately, the biggest battleground in many divorces is the “battle” over the children. I say “unfortunately” because the psychological and emotional damage that parents cause their children in a combative divorce can last a lifetime. Some parents are notoriously combative and manipulative in using their children as weapons to hurt the other parent or use them as bargaining chips to increase child support payments.
It’s imperative that parents put their child first, that they move past the hurt and anger felt towards the other parent, and never involve the child in parental conflicts. I urge parents to adhere to putting their child first, even when it’s hard and the other parent isn’t.
If you are facing a contentious custody dispute, it’s important that you promptly speak with a lawyer to learn how to best protect your children. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. By choosing the Law Office of Channe G. Coles, you will have guidance throughout the process and all of your questions will be answered.
Protect your child, first and foremost
I urge every client to consider the potential damage to their child caused by a long, contentious court battle, and to consider how physical or emotional interference with the other parent’s custodial rights will impact your child. Unfortunately, many divorcing parents are guilty of trying to alienate their child from the other parent by undermining the parent-child relationship; sadly, this is the norm and not the exception.
With every new client, I do my best to provide information on relevant law and the process by which custody and visitation matters are fought, decided and won. The court system is bound by the requirement to make custody and visitation decisions based upon the “best interest” of the child standard. A strategic approach to convincing the Court that your custodial request is in the best interest of the child requires planning, preparation, and in some cases, modifications in the child’s home-life and active improvement in co-parenting skills.
How to “Win” Your Custody Case
To “win” a child custody case, you must usually demonstrate that you and your environment are most likely to serve the best interests of the child. Though determining what constitutes “best interest” is often subjective, it is important to focus on the holy grail trifecta of “health, safety, and welfare of the child” at all times.
The court wants assurances that the parent seeking custody can provide a safe, healthy, and wholesome environment in which to raise the child. Courts look to the stability of the parental residence, the other residents of the household, the presence or absence of a parent during the business day and on weekends, economic circumstances and child support obligations, bedroom space and other living arrangements, and any special needs the child may have. Certainly, the “best interest” calculation includes the educational best interest of the child. The court will be interested in knowing which parent is most likely to promote the academic objectives and educational success of the child. Most often, the courts place more weight on which parent demonstrates the greatest ability to facilitate effective co-parenting, and who is more likely to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent. The general rule is that it’s in the child’s best interest to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, including parenting time and phone or FaceTime calls, which is why your cooperation may carry so much weight.
How to “Lose” Your Custody Case
California courts disfavor parents who refuse to comply with court orders, involve the child in custodial disputes, disparage the other parent in written or verbal communications, create conflict in public places, such as the child’s school, doctor’s office, playground, friend’s house, sports activities, etc., or whose actions necessitate the involvement of the police. When making custodial rulings, the court reviews the record of cooperation between the parents. The parent with a history of violating the custodial rights of the other parent or who has refused to cooperate and interact in a peaceful manner with the other parent during custodial exchanges or visitation will not be favored.
“Facts” vs. “Opinion”
The bottom line in arguing and winning your custody battle based on the “best interest” standard is recognizing the need to build a “fact” based case, not one based purely on your opinion or speculation as to the other parent’s character or parenting skills. Whether you “like” or “dislike” the other parent, or find them to be a jerk, lazy, cheap, manipulative, adulterer, fat, ugly, stupid, or hate their new girlfriend/boyfriend is all irrelevant.
You need undisputed “facts” and admissible evidence to support and establish why your custodial request is in the best interests of your child. You also need to embody those qualities which the courts look to when awarding custody: such as your ability and interest in providing for the emotional, social, moral, material, and educational needs of the child, as well as your ability to effectively co-parent with the other parent and encourage the relationship between child and parent.
Let Us Fight for You
At the Law Office of Channe G. Coles, we work diligently to help our clients establish and maintain meaningful parental relationships with their children. We are knowledgeable of the law and practical in our approach to protect our client’s rights, as well as what is best for the involved children.
Contact us today for your consultation. We service Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.