My soon-to-be-ex and I are in the midst of a divorce. We have three children together. What happens if we can’t agree on custody and visitation?

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My soon-to-be-ex and I are in the midst of a divorce. We have three children together. What happens if we can’t agree on custody and visitation?

Asked on March 12, 2009 under Family Law, California

Answers:

S.B.A., Member, California and Texas Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

In California, you will receive a 'mediation appointment' prior to your first court hearing. At the mediation, the counselor will try to get Mom and Dad to agree to custody and visitation. Neither party has to agree. In some counties, the mediator's recommendation is presented to the Judge/Commissioner; in most counties, that only information given the Judge is that the parties failed to reach an agreement.

In a case where the mediator's recommendation is sent to the court, the aggrieved party's attorney can cross-examine the mediator as to the basis of the recommendation.

Unfortunately, custody and visitation issues can deplete the financial resources of the family. The most common custody and visitation order is 20% time to the non-custodial parent. This usually translates into every other weekend, and a portion of the summer and school breaks, and distribution of holidays and birthdays, father's and mother's day.

An increasingly used (but still very much in the minority) parenting plan is 50/50, with the parents living close and the children alternating between households (every other week with each parent).

If the parents can't agree to a custody/visitation plan, the Court will order one, based on 'the best interests of the children'.


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