When you got married, it was likely with the idea that it would last the rest of your life. The reality is that while divorce in California is common, parenting is for a lifetime. If you have children and your spouse wants full custody, you may need to take steps that ensure you remain active in their lives.
According to the California Courts, there are two kinds of child custody. Physical custody refers to where your children live, and legal custody pertains to who makes important decisions about your children’s lives. The court recognizes the importance of having both parents in a child’s life. However, some judges may have a bias towards the mother. This means that, as a father, you may have to fight for legal custody.
Start with negotiation
Going to court can be a lengthy and expensive process. Try working out a parenting plan through mediation or other alternative methods first. Divorce takes an emotional toll on everyone involved, even under the best circumstances. You can save time, money, and distress by agreeing to custody arrangements and parenting time without a judge’s intervention.
Be there for your children as often as possible for routine, everyday events. Pick them up or drop them off at school or daycare, attend school functions, go to doctor’s appointments and cheer for them at ball games. Make sure the people in your children’s lives know who you are and that you know them, from teachers and babysitters to doctors and coaches. This shows that you are an integral part of the child’s life.
Establish that you are a stable, loving presence in your children’s lives. Ask friends, family members, clergy or coworkers for references. They can describe your personality and how important your children’s presence is to your life.
If your ex refuses negotiation and you must go before a judge and fight for custody, your actions often speak well of your intentions. They may positively influence the judge’s decision, ensuring you can remain a close and loving presence for your children.