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Should custody and visitation litigation favor joint custody?

After parents divorce, their children's well-being is usually at the forefront of their minds. When it comes to matters of custody and visitation litigation, it is most often the case that one parent, usually but not always the mother, will have primary custody, with the other parent being granted very limited access. Some are now questioning whether this is in the best interests of children in California, or if is it a detrimental act which alienates children from the non-custodial parent.

There are certainly times when the presence of the non-custodial parent must be regulated or refused. Where there has been physical or emotional abuse within the marital home, for example, it may be necessary to protect a vulnerable child from behavior they may not fully comprehend. In most divorce cases, this is less likely to be a relevant factor to the relationships between parents and their children.

These issues are highlighted publicly from time to time, and one such occasion was the eighth annual International Parental Alienation Day which was held recently. Many non-custodial parents, not only those based in California, would prefer to see equally shared joint custody as the initial point of negotiation. A former spouse may have faults that made them incompatible partners, but it does not necessarily follow that they are also bad parents.

In this manner, a child need not feel torn loyalties or miss out on valuable bonding time with either parent. In cases where there are issues which contradict such an arrangement, a judge would still have the ability and right to deny or restrict contact as he or she feels appropriate. California residents who wish to avoid exclusion from the majority of their children's lives would be best served by seeking out the options available to them regarding custody and visitation litigation.

Source: Argus Leader, "Split parenting 50-50, mothers, fathers say at rally", Jon Walker, April 26, 2014

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