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Shared custody is the standard in most California divorces

Your kids are likely one of the most important things in your life. Much of what you do every day revolves around the needs of your kids and how you plan to provide for them. Divorce is often a difficult time for children, and as a loving parent, you probably already know that.

In fact, you may have decided to take steps to minimize how much stress the divorce causes your children. Some parents even put off divorce for quite some time in the hope of protecting their children from the traumatic experience of watching their parents split up.

For some couples, divorce is the only healthy option for everyone in the family. This is particularly true when there are deep-seated issues in the family. When there are major issues, divorcing spouses are likely to wonder what will happen with child custody arrangements in their divorce. Understanding how California courts usually handle the process can help you make informed decisions about how to proceed in a divorce.

Shared custody is the modern standard for divorce

Some time ago, the courts were likely to assign primary custody to one parent, while relegating the other to weekend visitation. That approach has not proven to work in the best interest of the children, so most courts now seek to create shared custody agreements.

In many cases, parents will have a 50-50 split of parental responsibilities and authority. Parents often have to split physical custody, which is whom the children stay with, as well as legal custody, which encompasses legal decision-making authority.

That could mean that children alternate weeks between their parents homes or different days during the week. It also means that there is less child support paid by either parent. This situation helps keep the child's relationships with both parents stable during the divorce. Unfortunately, this new standard does not work in certain unhealthy family situations.

Evidence of serious issues will be necessary for other custody arrangements

If you have chosen to leave your spouse because of a history of abuse toward you or the children, or issues with addiction, you may have grounds to seek primary custody of the children. However, in order to do so, you must be able to demonstrate to the courts that your ex does not have the ability to provide a safe and loving environment for the children.

Police reports documenting cases of spousal or child abuse can help you prove your case. So can medical records of serious injuries. In some cases, statements by therapists can also help in child custody proceedings. If there is no documentation or evidence to support claims of abuse or addiction, the courts may still choose to move forward with a shared custody arrangement.

Every family is unique, so it is important to thoroughly explore your situation before setting goals for your divorce proceedings and custody situation. Barring extreme situations that are dangerous for the children, it is very likely that you and your ex will share custody and need to develop a healthy co-parenting relationship after the divorce.

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