Here’s a little secret about California’s child custody laws: Like other “family” laws, child custody and visitation laws are not designed to be fair to parents. Instead, the basic principle of child custody laws is known as the “best interest of the child’ standard.
When making decisions on your child custody matter, your family law judges are concerned with:
• The child’s safety.
• The child’s health.
• The child’s education.
• The child’s protection from an abusive, or inadequate or drug-using parent.
• The child’s frequent and continuing contact with both parents.
• Stability and continuity in the child’s life.
There is a glaring omission here—what about the interests of the parties before the court, also known as the parents?
Here’s what I mean: Ask people with families why they decided to have children, and you’ll get answer’s like these:
• I have wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl.
• I wanted to pass down a legacy for my family.
• I have a passion to teach and mentor young people.
• I love children and find them fascinating.
I can’t think of anyone who wanted children because having them would serve the child’s “best interest.” I myself had children when I was older, and I can tell you that I didn’t know what love was until that little baby smiled back at me. He’s 13 now and my heart still breaks with love for him.
Here’s another secret: raising children can and should be fulfilling and meaningful. Can you have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with your children after divorce? What if you got the short end of the custody stick and have weekends or even just a few daytime visits?
The answer is an emphatic “YES!” I have found that the key to a satisfying life with your kids lies not in seeking court orders and submitting your situation to outside decision makers and evaluators.
Instead, take the energy you would spend litigating, and spend it on making your world a great place for your kids. Step up and help with homework, do something fun, or just be there when your kids need a shoulder to cry on. Such parents tend to wind up getting better court orders than those seeking “fairness” anyway.
Until next time…
Love your family,
Protect your finances, and
Reach for your future!
Thomas D. Ferreira, Esq.