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Los Gatos divorce attorney child custody mediation

The divorce process presents a unique set of challenges in each individual case. For parents, a divorce can significantly alter their relationships with their children. In many cases, divorcing parents will be fighting for custody of their children, and as this battle for custody takes place, many parents forget what should truly be at the forefront of the conversation: what is best for the children. In many cases, mediation can be used to resolve these issues amicably while keeping children’s best interests in mind.

The Benefits of Mediation in Child Custody Cases

During the mediation process, divorcing parents will work together with a neutral mediator to reach an agreement about child custody and visitation. Mediation can provide many benefits, including:

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Los Gatos child custody modification attorneyDuring a divorce, or after the birth of a child to an unmarried mother, decisions must be made about how child custody and visitation will be handled. After these matters are settled, and a plan is put in place, it may remain in effect until the child reaches adulthood. However, there are some circumstances in which a child custody agreement could and/or should be modified. A custody modification, however, is not something to be taken lightly. Typically, the parents must either be in agreement about the change, or there must have been a “change in circumstances.”

What Is a Change in Circumstances?

If you feel your child custody or visitation agreement should be changed, and the child’s other parent disagrees, then you will have to petition for a modification through the legal system. You may end up having to meet with a mediator or go before a judge to plead your case. You will not get anywhere in your quest, however, unless you can show that there has been a significant “change in circumstances” since the original parenting plan was put in place.

This means that there must have been some major change or big event in the child’s or the parent’s life that makes the previous custody arrangement no longer viable. The reason has to be significant, and the focus will be on the best interests of the child. A parent typically will not be able to have a child custody agreement changed without proving that this change to the child’s regular routine will be beneficial to the child.

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Los Gatos divorce and child custody lawyerMany divorced couples want to co-parent their children in a joint physical custody arrangement but struggle with the amount of coordination it requires. 50/50 parenting time schedules can be hard on the children, too, as they have to move between their parents’ houses regularly. To address this, some parents have opted for a “nesting” arrangement, wherein the children stay in a single home and the parents rotate in and out.

The Pros and Cons of Nesting in California 

Some of the benefits of a nesting arrangement include:

  • Children have the stability of one place to eat, sleep, and play. This can be most beneficial during the early stages of a divorce.
  • Parents save back-and-forth trips for needed items. When a child frequently changes houses, it is too easy to forget or run out of something they need.
  • Only one set of childcare paraphernalia is needed, and it gets to stay in one place. This is especially beneficial during a child’s infant and toddler years. Maintaining two sets of everything--cribs, high chairs, special toys and blankets, special food and bottles, etc.--is costly. 
  • When parents live far apart, it can be easier for the parents to travel to the nesting house than to shift the children back and forth, especially when one parent has the flexibility to work remotely. When the children stay in the nest, parents avoid having to drive or fly the children back and forth or having the children travel unaccompanied.

Nesting can also be problematic in several ways:

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Los Gatos legal child custody attorneyWhen making decisions about your post-divorce parenting plan, it is important to understand the difference between joint legal custody and sole legal custody of your children.   

Joint Legal Custody

Having joint legal custody, which is the most common choice in California divorces, means that both parents have the right and responsibility to make decisions about the children. It does not mean the parents have to be in 100% agreement about every decision, but they do have to be willing to discuss these issues calmly and compromise based on the best interests of the children. 

When joint legal custody is ordered, the court documents should specify the situations when the consent of both parents is required and the consequences if one party does not obtain the other’s consent. Such orders should also specify that both parents should have full access to all school and medical records, and that parents must keep each other informed about the children’s location and care decisions.

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CA family lawyerWhen parents decide to get divorced, or when they are unmarried, determining who will have responsibility for their children can often be a contentious matter to resolve. Disputes over child custody can be highly emotional, and the decisions made in these cases will affect parents’ and children’s lives and relationships for years to come. When working to resolve these issues, it is important to understand how California law affects the decisions made.

California Child Custody Laws

California law recognizes two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves decision-making authority for children, including medical, dental, or mental health treatments; educational choices, such as where they will go to school; extracurricular activities they will participate in; whether they will attend church or be involved in religious activities; and other decisions related to their general welfare. Physical custody involves where children will live and spend their time.

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Los Gatos, CA 95030

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