Sole custody: Proving you are the better parent

When you first got married, you and your spouse may have been like many California married couples who felt like they were ready to take on the world as long as they had each other. Such intense emotions are common in newlyweds and tend to become a bit more subdued as time goes on and life happens. Those "us against the world" feelings may have resurfaced when you started having children. Parenthood has a way of making spouses feel strongly united.  

You may have never imagined that you'd be facing the circumstances you are right now, preparing for divorce and planning to seek sole custody of your children. If you want the court to grant sole custody, it essentially means you have to convince the judge overseeing the case that you are the better parent and that it would be in your children's best interests to live with you over you ex.  

Factors that influence the court's decisions 

In all matters of child custody, visitation and support, the California family justice system cares most about what is best for children. The court decides this on a case-by-case basis. The following list includes issues that may sway the court's favor in your direction or to the other side:  

  • A judge is not likely to look favorably on a parent that creates drama in the courtroom, especially concerning badmouthing the other parent. 
  • If you constantly try to attack your former spouse in order to convince the court that your kids would be better off with you, your plan may backfire. 
  • Your children's lifestyle will be a main focus of discussion during custody proceedings. The court wants to make sure that you have your children's physical well-being in mind and that you encourage routines that promote good diet, sleep, exercise and other healthy living regimens.
  • The court is typically of the opinion that children fare best in divorce when provided ample opportunities to maintain active relationships with both parents, unless there is an extenuating issue that would make that a detriment to their safety or overall well-being.
  • Showing that you are willing to compromise and cooperate as needed and that you openly encourage frequent communication and time spent between your kids and your ex lets the court know that you have their emotional and psychological well-being in mind.  

Most judges nowadays believe that shared custody is a best course of action for most children in divorce, so if you believe that sole custody is best for your kids, you will have to convince the court as well. If your ex tries to make you look bad or attempts to undermine your parental rights, it is best to avoid confrontation and to try to stay calm and focused on the issues you know are likely to influence the judge's decision toward your favor.

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