What if the Child’s Best Interest does Not Coincide with the Parents Desire in Child Custody in Orange County California?
If the Child’s Best Interest does Not Coincide with Parents Desire? In California, the child’s best interests are always the most important factor in determining a child custody and visitation order. A parents’ wishes have very little bearing on the outcome of a custody order.
Parents do have options when it comes to a child custody and visitation order: they can choose to create their own either outside of the legal system or through child custody mediation. However, if there is no court order regarding child custody, the custody agreement cannot be enforced. A child custody order that is created through the legal system will need to be approved by a judge before it can become a court order, and in order for the judge to sign the order, it needs to be made in the best interest of the child.
Can a Parent Create a Child Custody and Visitation Order?
If parents create their own child custody and visitation orders, they are actually more likely to follow them than if they leave it up to the courts. Many parents are required to go through custody mediation before a hearing can be held regarding a custody case.
When parents create a custody agreement, also called a parenting plan, they need to consider the child’s best interests. A child has needs that a parenting plan should meet, including the following:
• Protection, guidance, acceptance and love,
• A healthy diet, food, water, and shelter,
• Medical care and education,
• The child’s relationships with both parents.
In order for parents to create their own custody and visitation plan, they need to be able to cooperate with one another and agree on one custody plan. Mediation is a great way to make it happen!
Parents also need to consider their own needs and the needs of the other parent when creating a custody agreement. While the child is always the priority, the parents need to work together to make a realistic custody agreement.
What is Child Custody Mediation in California?
Child custody mediation is a safe way for parents to work out their differences and come to an agreement on a child custody plan that is in the best interests of their child. During mediation, the parents will work with a trained mediator, whose job it is to facilitate a healthy discussion between the parents that leads to a custody agreement.
Mediators are usually former attorneys, judges, or mental health professionals who have gone through training to become a mediator.
Child custody mediators cannot provide legal advice to either party, but they do help the parents determine what their goals are for mediation, and assist in reaching those goals.
Check with your local Family Court Services for free or low cost mediation, or discuss your case with an attorney in your area to find a local child custody mediator.
If you and your spouse do come to an agreement through mediation, your mediator can submit the mediation agreement to a judge. If the judge approves the agreement, it can become a child custody order.
However, if parents are unable to come to their own agreement through mediation or outside of the courtroom, the custody case may need to go to court.
What does the Judge Consider in a Custody Case?
The number one thing that a judge will consider in a child custody case is the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child can change as the child ages, so the following factors can be considered in order to determine the child’s best interest.
• The child’s age,
• The child’s health, safety, and wellbeing,
• The child’s relationship with both parents,
• Each parent’s ability to put the child’s best interest first; a parent who is able to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent will have a higher likelihood of getting custody;
• The parents’ history of drug or alcohol abuse,
• The parents’ history of domestic violence or child abuse,
• The children’s wishes may be considered, especially if the child is at least 14 years old in California.
What if a Parent’s Circumstances Change and the Custody Order is no Longer Possible?
In order for a custody order to be successfully changed, the parent must show that a change in the order is in the best interest of the child, and that circumstances have changed so that the existing custody order is no longer in the best interest of the child.
A change of circumstances can involve the parents, or any of the following situations.
• One parent’s work schedule has changed,
• One parent has moved closer to the other parent,
• One parent wants to move farther away from the other parent, and either take the child with him or her, or change the visitation order,
• One parent has been irresponsible with the child, which has caused the child to arrive late to school or start a drug or alcohol habit,
• One parent has developed an issue with drugs or alcohol,
• One parent has become incarcerated,
• The child’s life has changed so that the current order is no longer in the child’s best interests.
• This can happen as the child gets older, becomes involved in more activities that interfere with visitation, or becomes more independent.
• The child’s wishes may be considered if the court decides that the child is capable of making an informed decision.
Child Custody Lawyer in Orange County, California
If you wish to create a child custody order for your child, it is in your right to do so. However, remember that the child’s other parent also has a right to make a custody agreement. No matter what, the custody agreement cannot become a legally enforceable child custody order until the court has approved it, and the court will not approve a child custody agreement that is not made in the best interest of the child.