Legal issues involving a child are usually emotionally charged and the legal and mental health issues can be complex. In addition, in Santa Clara County the matter can be lengthy, unless the parents agree before trial, as noted below. If the matter has to be heard by a Judge, there are guidelines that the Judge has in making orders, although the Judge also has discretion in how to interpret each of these guidelines or factors.
The overall guiding principle for the Judge is the ‘Best Interest of the Children’ – this, by itself is a complex concept, best interpreted by a neutral third party, which is a role your attorney should play. Although your attorney is loyal to you alone, your attorney should examine any pit-falls in your case and thus be prepared to counter any unfavorable.
Some of the issues/questions that the Judges consider are:
the age of the child
was there a ‘primary caregiver’ during the marriage?
did both parents administer discipline?
were both parents involved in the children’s schooling and extracurricular activities?
Does a power imbalance exist between the parents – if so can this be alleviated?
is there a substance abuse issue present in either parent?
is there substantial evidence of domestic violence in the household?
Website: Families Change This link sends you to a website sponsored by the Judicial Branch of California, is called ‘Families Change’ and it contains information and guides for both the parents and the children (one for kids and one for teens) – which includes the interactive game named ‘Changeville’.
Handbook for Parenting after Separation: This handbook was produced by the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, a division of the Administrative Office of the Courts. It discusses the experience of separation; from the parent’s, as well as the children’s, prospective. It gives advise on how to deal with issues that arise and how to be businesslike with dealings with the other parent.