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What not to do in a child custody case

In California, either or both parents may obtain custody of the children in the event of a divorce. Often, during divorce discussions, parents will determine on their own custody details, or what is often called a parenting plan. However, if parents cannot agree, a judge may have to make the final decision on which parent obtain custody of the children. California considers the best interests of the child when determining child custody.

Historically, men have been overlooked and disadvantaged when courts determined parental custody; women were believed by courts to be the appropriate individual to parent children in the event of a divorce. However, the law now views both parents as equally capable of parenting their children. Only additional evidence brought forth could harm a parent's child custody rights.

Yet, many men believe they are still at a natural disadvantage in custody hearings, assuming that judges maintain some partiality toward the mother. Perhaps in direct response to this concern, a list was recently published detailing a series of don'ts that men should follow in order to obtain custody of their children.

The list advises men to avoid:

  • Yelling at their wife
  • Moving in with a new partner
  • Criticizing their wife to outside parties
  • Denying phone conversation between mother and children when children are in father's care
  • Taking the kids out of the area without prior warning to the mother

The list may seem intuitive at first glance, but in a difficult and stressful divorce, the spousal relationship can become agitated and contentious. It is often easier to be inconsiderate to another person in such an adversarial setting. But any of these actions could work against the man in a custody dispute.

The bottom line: the list is advantageous for the divorcing male spouse to follow, for the purposes of child custody as well as encouraging general civility in a divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, "Ways to Sabotage Child Custody," Joseph E. Cordell, April 2, 2012

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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