Orange County Divorce Mediation and Law Blog

When bird nesting can be successful

California couples may have noticed a new trend in how parents raise their children after a divorce. Instead of the child splitting time at each parent's home, the parents split time at the family home. This benefits the child as it provides a sense of stability during an otherwise uncertain time. However, this may not work well for all parents.

Those who can't afford a place to stay could be forced to live on a couch or in other situations where they don't have a lot of privacy. Alternatively, they could be forced to spend money on an alternate residence that will be left vacant at times. If parents don't have similar schedules or goals when it comes to maintaining the home, it could create another conflict that needs to be resolved. However, it could be worthwhile for individuals who are waiting for the right time to sell or vacate a family home or apartment.

How parents can help their children through divorce

There are certain things parents in California can do to make their divorce less difficult for their children as well as things they can avoid. For example, parents should reassure children that the divorce is not their fault. They should encourage a good relationship with the other parent and talk to the child without offering an opinion if the child is negative about that parent. Neither parent should badmouth the other.

Parents should try to be consistent with their household rules and appear united in front of the children. However, if there is any parental conflict, children should be kept out of it. Parents should also avoid sharing details of the divorce with their children. They should monitor their child for signs of depression and might ask teachers or friends about the child's welfare. Younger children in particular might not speak about being upset but may act out. In general, parents should try to help children continue their lives much as they were before the divorce.

Custody basics for divorcing parents

When there is a dispute about the role of unmarried or divorcing parents in the lives of children, the family law court system is usually asked to determine the respective rights of everyone involved. The rights of California parents to spend time with their children are called custodial rights. There are some basic assumptions incorporated into laws and judicial philosophies regarding the amount of time each parent is allowed to spend with children. Depending on the specifics of a situation, a judge may award sole, partial or joint custody of children.

Most jurisdictions begin with the assumption that each parent should be fully incorporated into the lives of children. Parents are also required to help financially support children pursuant to formulas enacted under state laws. Parents having equal time with children split equally between them are said to have joint custody. For logistical purposes, even in joint custody situations, a child is likely to spend more time with one parent than the other. The parent having the most time with a child is called the primary residential parent.

Courts judge parents seeking child custody on 4 basic factors

Although family courts in California take unique circumstances into account when reviewing child custody petitions, four basic guidelines form the basis for parental evaluation. These are positive environment, previous involvement, present participation and personal character.

A positive living environment generally arises when a parent has the financial means to provide shelter, clothing, food, education and health care. Red flags, like allegations of abuse that resulted in an investigation by law enforcement or child protective services, would give a judge pause before awarding custody.

Shared parenting makes children happier

Divorcing California parents are often terribly conflicted and confused by the choices put before them regarding custody disputes.

When lawyers, judges, and mediators put forth the idea of shared parenting, it is sometimes rejected immediately and without consideration. This is particularly true in high conflict situations. An increasing body of evidence is showing that parents may be doing a disservice to their children by not at least considering shared parenting. 

Choices in child custody arrangements

The term "child custody" actually refers to two different types of custody. The parent with legal custody is able to make decisions about the child's welfare, including religion health care and education. The child lives with the parent who has physical custody. California parents may have sole physical and legal custody or joint physical and legal custody or some combination of the two. Joint legal custody is fairly common.

When parents share physical custody, the child often alternates between their homes, spending every few days or each week with one or the other parent. Another arrangement is called bird's nest custody and involves the children continuing to live in the family home while the parents take turns living there.

Mediation can help to produce effective parenting plans

For California couples headed toward divorce, it can be a challenging and emotional time. This is especially true when they also have young children. Both spouses may have the best interests of their children at heart, but the divorce itself can be a highly stressful experience. Pursuing a collaborative divorce or a mediation process can help these couples develop a lasting, positive co-parenting relationship.

The creation of a parenting plan can be a key part of protecting both parents' relationships with their children moving forward. The plan not only addresses issues like child custody and visitation but also serves as a framework for future parenting decisions. A non-adversarial framework can be helpful in setting the tone for development of a successful agreement.

The benefits of shared parenting

California parents who have gotten divorced may prefer that they both play a role in raising their children after the marriage ends. In recent years, lawmakers in several states have also pushed for parents to have an equitable role in raising children after a divorce. For some legislators, it may be a way to advance an agenda of gender equality. Creating a shared parenting arrangement may be a way to get parents to cooperate during divorce proceedings.

Instead of two people fighting for the right to be a parent, the law can dictate that both parents will have a role in their child's life. This may prevent one person leaving a custody hearing feeling like a part-time visitor as opposed to a true parent. In many cases, women tend to be given custody of children as they have long been seen as better caregivers.

Preparing well can help the divorce process

Divorce can be a challenging time for California residents looking to end their marriage. This can be the case even when the relationship between former spouses remains amicable, as the emotional baggage of dealing with child custody, spousal support and other issues in the divorce can loom large. When partners want to end their marriage without a court battle or a contested divorce, divorce mediation can be an option that can help people achieve their goals and move on from their marriage peacefully.

Annually, the turn of the new year also comes with an escalated number of divorce filings; many couples wait until after the holidays to begin the divorce process, especially if they have children in the home. At the same time, holidays and other family events can be an occasion for high-intensity stress that inspires a partner to put into practice their thoughts about divorce. There are several steps that people can take to prepare to handle their divorce as easily and quickly as possible.

Keeping Children Happy For Holidays

Couples in Orange County and across the country that are going through a divorce during the holidays may face many challenges. However, if they're prepared mentally, then there are ways that children and parents can deal with the new norm of life.

One thing that children should keep in mind is that there are two families to offer love and support to them and that they are the priority in the relationship and during the holiday season. There will be a time when the divorce will seem better, but that day might take a while to arrive. The first thing that couples should begin to put into perspective is that the holiday season is about family instead of the divorce.

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