Even though you know that you should win custody of your child in your heart, you'll need to show the courts why. In California, the judges are ultimately concerned with one thing: the child's best interest. Best interest means that family courts will seek a custody arrangement that meets that standard. That said, it's essential to understand what the courts are looking for in a fit parent.
Use the following list to have a better chance with your child custody case.
What To Do To Win Child Custody in California
In determining a child's best interests, California law specifies two guiding policies:
- The health, safety, and welfare of children must be a court's primary concern, and
- Children benefit from frequent and continuing contact with both parents
So, what practical steps can you take to meet those guidelines?
- Be active with your child's education, extracurricular activities, and events. Regardless of whether you have your children, it would be best if you stayed involved in their life. For example, attend parent/teacher conferences, go to their sporting games, support them at their music recitals. Being proactive about these issues shows the judges that you are supportive of your child.
- Collaborate with your co-parent. Courts recognize and praise parents who show a willingness to work together to raise their children. Although this is essentially essential co-parenting, we have seen parents lose custody because they were unwilling to work together. You need to show the family court that you are willing to do this, even if it's difficult, for the benefit of your child.
- Give them their own space in your home. Be sure to have all the essentials your child needs in your home, including clothes, toiletries, toys, and bedding. You don't want them to be living out of a suitcase uncomfortably. That way, your child feels like your home is their home too.
- Exercise your parental rights. Ensure you exercise your parental rights, especially once granted visitation rights with your child. Spend as much time with them as you can. If you aren't even exercising the time you have now, the court will not give you more if you try to modify child custody.
- Support your co-parent's relationship with your child. Sadly, we have seen parents try to sabotage their child's relationship with the other parent to win custody. This strategy is not the right way to go about it and will result badly if the courts uncover your actions. Instead, respect your co-parent's time and encourage a healthy relationship between them and your child. In the end, it is in their best interest to have a relationship with both parents.
- Make a good impression in court. Child custody disputes are adversarial, and one of the hardest things to do in a battle is to remain level-headed. Do everything you can to present yourself as a competent, involved, and loving parent. You should arrive on time, dress appropriately, and demonstrate proper courtroom etiquette in front of the judge. If you can't even keep it together when a judge or mediator is watching, it could show that you are not likely to stay calm when you are alone with your child.
Hire an Experienced San Francisco Child Custody Attorney
You do not have to go through this journey alone. As seasoned lawyers, we understand how emotionally devastating this process can be. However, we always strive to formulate a parenting plan that meets our clients' needs and their children. Whether you are looking to reach an agreement with your co-parent or need a knowledgeable attorney to fight for you, Fenchel Family Law PC is here for you.