Sacramento Divorce Attorney Discusses Child Custody and Visitation
An article appeared in the Mercury News last week about a child custody case involving our office. The specifics of that case are not the subject of this blog, but some of the concepts involved in any custody and visitation dispute were at issue there, and are the subject of this post.
Custody and visitation cases always turn on what is in the best interests of the child or children. Best interests takes into consideration the health, safety and welfare of the children. Many times parents bring laundry lists of concerns to court that they claim affect the health, safety and welfare of the children. Many of these concerns are personality driven or involve different styles of parenting (playing indoor games versus outdoor activities, or feeding no junk food versus occasional junk food). However, there are hard cases where a parent is abusing a child, or abusing drugs or alcohol in the presence of the child, and it is those cases that test the family court system the most.
Courts and judges have only limited information in front of them. The attorneys only have the information from their clients and from the other side, not all of which is disinterested. Some of it may be misleading or untruthful. The family court system is imperfect, and tries to resolve disputes between parents on the basis of what little information it has. Ideally, parents would agree on the best custody and visitation arrangement for their children. When parents agree, it typically results in a better outcome for the children.
Sometimes a case is so bad that it ends up not in family court, but in juvenile dependency court. This happens when CPS becomes involved and removes the child or children from the home. These children then become wards of the state. Parents in dependency cases are closely monitored, and given reunification plans. These plans typically include counseling, parenting classes, visitation (supervised and unsupervised), and drug testing as needed. There are regular meetings with social workers and frequent court dates regarding the status of the case. This is very different from family court where parents are often ordered to take similar classes and other provisions, but there are fewer instances of monitoring. Its places the burden on parents to ensure compliance or to enforce non-compliance.
Custody cases are often emotionally charged and the most difficult cases to handle. There rarely is one right answer, a fact that frustrates many parents. Here at Sagaria Law, we offer a full range of family law and legal services including divorce, paternity, adoption, child custody and visitation matters, child support, spousal support, alimony, juvenile dependency, domestic violence, division of property, grandparent visitation and custody, etc. We have seven Northern California locations including San Jose, San Francisco, Redwood City, Fremont, Salinas, Roseville and Sacramento. We offer a free thirty minute consultation, either in person at any of our offices, or over the phone. Call our offices today and we can connect you with an attorney immediately or we can schedule your free consultation with one of our family law attorneys: (408) 279-2288 or (800) 941-6730 or visit www.sagarialaw.com