California courts used to grant automatic custody rights to mothers. This is no longer the case, even if the child or children are very young. Custody and visitation rights are now secure for non-married parents, disabled parents, and parents of every lifestyle, religious perspective and sexual orientation. Given that the system tends to be inclusive of many different kinds of parents, you will likely need to agree to a custody plan with your former spouse. In all instances, the parents are either able to come to a custody agreement or the parents are unable to come to a custody agreement. The following paragraphs will describe what occurs in each scenario.
If you are able to agree on a custody plan
If you are able to agree on a custody plan, you will need to present the plan to the judge. Since family law judges are sensitive to the needs of the parties, your plan is likely to be approved. You will need to be sure that the “best interest” of the child is reflected in the custody plan. A family law attorney will help you build a plan that meets the legal definition of the child or children’s “best interest.”
If you are unable to agree on a custody plan
The majority of spouses are able to agree on a custody plan. If you cannot agree and the situation becomes acrimonious, the judge will likely recommend a mediator. The impartial mediator will try to bring you and your spouse to a mutually agreeable plan. If the mediator is unable to do so, he or she will recommend a parenting plan to the judge.
If you need help developing a custody plan
You should speak with a family attorney. Divorces without children are often complicated. When there are one or more children, an attorney can help you work through the personal and legal complexities in as quick a fashion as possible so you will be able to start your new life.
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