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Paula D. Kleinman, A Professional Law Corporation
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Vista California Family Law Blog

Determining child custody during the holiday season

California residents may have different experiences during the holiday season. For some, it may represent a time of fun with friends and family members. For others, however, it can represent a time of stress and drama. Those who have been divorced may have the additional challenge of figuring out what to do with the children. In some cases, the courts don't have enough time to help families resolve issues related to parenting and custody issues.

It may be a good idea to create a parenting plan prior to getting divorced and attempting to stick to it as closely as possible. This can be written down as part of a formal binding agreement or agreed to in an informal and flexible manner. It is vital that parents are flexible and keep the best interest of the children in mind when it comes to who they spend time with.

Divorce mediation is a positive alternative to litigation

Marriages end for a variety of reasons for couples in California and across the United States. While the term "divorce" often conjures up images of anger, pain and hatred as well as lengthy struggles in the courtroom, this is not the only way to bring a marriage to an end. Divorce litigation can be costly on both a financial and emotional level. Divorcing couples can lose up to a third of their total net worth due to the fees and costs that come with a contested courtroom divorce. A courtroom environment can emphasize the adversarial nature of divorce proceedings and augment an already-fragile emotional situation.

This can be particularly concerning for divorcing couples that need to co-parent after the divorce as well as former spouses that want to preserve an amicable relationship. Divorce mediation is one option that can help both parties in a divorce achieve their goals and leave the marriage with a positive outcome. Divorce mediators focus on supporting constructive communication and avoiding inflammatory or disparaging remarks. Building an environment of respectful communication helps to manage the resolution of financial concerns and property division and also can play a major role in supporting positive custody agreements and ongoing co-parenting relationships.

Star may represent self in upcoming custody proceedings

Tyrese fans in California who have been following the celebrity's posts on social media may want to know more about the status of his child custody case. According to one entertainment news outlet, media posted to Instagram concerning the situation have led some followers to question the artist's mental health and the state of his finances. On Nov. 13, reports surfaced suggesting that Tyrese might act as his own attorney in upcoming child custody proceedings.

A substitution of attorney was filed prior to a hearing that was scheduled to be held on Nov. 14. The star's ex-wife, Norma Gibson, was seeking a permanent restraining order against Tyrese amid allegations that he had beaten their 10-year-old daughter. Before the child abuse case was dropped following an investigation, an emotional Tyrese took to social media to lament his separation from his child and his monthly $13 thousand child support payment.

Tips for planning a co-parenting plan that works

California parents of minor children must develop a custody or visitation arrangement as part of a divorce. Long-term thinking is essential when negotiating this agreement. Careful consideration of each parent's work schedule and the children's school and extracurricular activities could help a person avoid agreeing to a schedule that proves unworkable and results in going back to court to make adjustments.

The needs and best interests of the child should guide the parents' choices. Courts want to see co-parenting proposals that present schedules that all parties can realistically live with. Although parents are often not on good terms when building these plans, reasonable compromises could benefit both parents because everyone will be living according to the terms of the plan for many years.

Shared custody benefits well-being of children

Courts guided by old attitudes about children needing to be solely with their mothers continue to grant women full physical custody of children in over 80 percent of custody disputes decided by judges. Researchers, however, have identified shared custody as the ideal, and parents in California facing the possibility of a legal battle over their children should understand that children benefit from relationships with both parents.

A professor of adolescent and educational psychology explored the effects of shared custody on children by examining 44 studies about divorce and children. The professor found that parent-child relationships mattered more than persistent conflicts between the divorced parents. In general, even poor co-parenting compared favorably to single parenting in regards to the happiness of children.

Reasons to pursue mediation during family conflicts

Conflicts between family members are a normal part of life, and there may be many ways to resolve them. One option that California residents may wish to pursue to resolve a family conflict is mediation. A key benefit to mediation is that it is a voluntary process that strives toward a win-win result for all involved. All parties talk with a mediator openly and without feeling judged.

In a divorce situation, this may help to achieve a result that both spouses may feel comfortable with. When a person engages in mediation, the goal is not to win or lose an argument. Instead, the goal is to simply hear the other side out and come up with ways to help each side move past their negative feelings. Through the mediation process, spouses may learn how to treat each other with kindness, and they may discover the importance of trust and loyalty.

Prenuptial agreements can help couples plan for the future

Many California couples planning on marriage are also considering prenuptial agreements. As increasing numbers of people marry with strong careers and significant assets already on hand, a prenuptial agreement can seem to be a great way to protect both parties' interests and cut down on lengthy and expensive legal disputes in the case of a future divorce.

When both parties are coming to a marriage with significant assets, the draw of a prenuptial agreement can be even stronger. Both parties have a high level of interest in their individual assets and protecting them in case of divorce or directing their distribution for inheritance.

How to increase the odds of success in mediation

Mediation can be an effective tool for California couples who are facing the end of their marriage. However, there are some steps that people should take before starting the mediation process to increase its effectiveness. For instance, people may wish to prepare for a variety of outcomes as opposed to aiming for a specific conclusion.

Ideally, a person will consider both his or her needs as well as the needs of the other party. In some cases, the needs of both parties will align closely, which may make a favorable outcome easier to achieve. Those who are going through mediation should take stock of their emotions before negotiations begin. It is not uncommon for individuals to experience an emotional outburst because they are free to talk for the first time in months or years.

DNA testing plays conclusive role in establishing parentage

DNA testing has a good track record of identifying the father of a child. With an accuracy rate of almost 100 percent, California courts recognize the results as valid when making rulings about child support, visitation and custody. In cases in which a man questions his role as the father of a child, especially if the woman wants him to pay child support, a family court might order a DNA test.

For legal purposes, the testing must be performed by a certified facility like a health department, hospital or clinic that follows chain of custody procedures. The test is noninvasive. A swab rubbed inside a person's cheek collects cells for the test. Technicians will analyze the samples twice, and a qualified lab director will review the results for accuracy of procedure.

Prenups do not mean that people are planning to divorce

Some Californians are taken aback when their fiancés tell them that they want to draft prenuptial agreements. However, having one may actually be smart for both parties for multiple reasons if it is drafted and negotiated correctly.

Sugggesting a prenuptial agreement does not necessarily mean that a person is planning for a marriage to end before it has even begun. Many couples use these types of agreements to clearly define and clarify the roles and responsibilities of each party during the marriage, which may help them to avoid conflicts that might otherwise occur. Prenuptial agreements also are a good way for people to learn about each other's finances because they must fully disclose their assets and debts during their discussions.

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