There are some orders that we feel are underutilized by Judges in Custody cases. One of the reasons we list them here is because the judges in this county tend to not have egos: if you ask them to adjust an order they just made and they like the suggestion, they won’t have any qualms about doing so. So if a judge in your case doesn’t make an order listed here, feel free to tell them why they should!
- Right of first refusal: Parents work, parents go to school, parents are busy. Too often, a parent will know in advance that there will be an extended period of time where they will not be able to take care of the children directly. In many of these cases, they will simply hire a babysitter, take the child into daycare, or leave the child with a friend or relative. In these cases, not only is it cheaper for the parent to leave the child with the other parent, but it is usually good for both the child and the other parent! A right of first refusal is an order that requires a parent who won’t be able to see the child for 8 hours (or less, sometimes) on that parents time to notify the other parent and give that parent the first chance at parenting time with the child.
- Step-up plans: Courts are required to make custody and visitation orders based on the best interests of the child, but nothing prevents them from anticipating that the best interests of the child will require more visitation with the noncustodial parent in the future and changing the visitation plan accordingly. These types of orders are especially important if the parties can’t afford taking work off to come back to Court or spending additional money on attorneys. Here’s an example where a step-up plan could work: The noncustodial parent wants to have overnights with a young child, but the Court doesn’t feel that the noncustodial parent is ready. The Court may be inclined toward ordering daytime visitation only at the time of the hearing, but the Court could be open to an automatic step-up to overnights after several weeks or months. Again, if the Court doesn’t think of this, don’t be afraid to pipe up and suggest it yourself!
- Thorough Anti-Conflict Orders: I think we can all agree that conflict between parents can be kryptonite to children. A standard order in most cases is that neither parent is allowed to say anything negative about the other parent. Yet, that doesn’t stop grandma or the neighbor or a best friend from saying something negative about the other parent right in front of the child. Although the Court can’t typically make binding orders on third parties in custody cases, they can order a parent to immediately remove a child from any situation where the other parent is being belittled. And I think every Court should make that order.
We understand that this is a sensitive situation that could greatly affect your family and your relationship with your children, and our team can provide you with the caring and outstanding legal counsel you need and deserve. If you would like to discuss your rights under California’s child custody laws, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.
Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.