One of the most difficult things about separating from a partner occurs when children are involved. Determining who gets the children and when are incredibly difficult decisions and often the reason why the divorce process is long and contentious. However, in a lot of circumstances, the separating couple is able to determine the details of child custody themselves. However, the state of California also considers the best interests of the child in determining custody issues and while consider this test when approving a custody request. These best interest considerations are currently at play in the matter of the separation of the California treasurer and his wife.
As a previous post mentioned, California treasurer Bill Lockyer and his wife have been in the midst of separation for some time. As soon as divorce became a discussion, the couple vocally considered the best interests of their child in the process. Part of the reason cited for the separation had to do with some personal issues the treasurer's wife underwent.
Relatedly, the wife was recently charged with methamphetamine possession and child abuse. Due to these allegations, her visitations rights with her 9-year old son had been revoked. During a recent hearing however a judge modified the protective order which prohibited visitation, permitting her to see her son while her husband was present. The wife expressed her relief at the decision and indicated that she is now getting the help she needs and focusing on a healthy future.
It is vital to consider that a court will have the ultimate say in child custody rulings. Even if a couple has agreed to a certain visitation schedule, if there is an indication that such schedule does not reflect the best interest of the child, a court may refuse to honor a visitation request. Furthermore, even after a custody agreement is granted in a court of law, if later evidence is brought forth that shows risk of harm to the child in either partner's custody, a modification of a custody ruling may occur. This is what occurred in the treasurer's case.
While amicable resolution of divorce details between the separating partners is a much sought after result, the consideration of how the law will look upon the facts of the separation is also an important factor to address when divorcing.
Source: Mercury News, "California treasurer's wife regains child visitation," Gillian Flaccus, Sept. 10, 2012