With many divorcing couples, custody of their children tends to become one of the biggest issues. Both parents may seek full custody, either out of genuine desire to be with the kids or, all too often, a desire to feel like they've "won" in the divorce. This is a misguided approach to child custody. Ideally, both you and your spouse will understand the importance of an ongoing relationship with the other and do your best to facilitate a healthy situation.
The sooner you accept the idea that you will need to have continuing contact with your spouse and work with him or her to parent your children, the easier the whole process will be. Courts typically do not award sole custody to one parent unless there are extenuating circumstances. You need to take steps to repair the way you relate with your spouse during and after your divorce to ensure you can co-parent together successfully.
California courts look to the best interests of the children
When it comes to deciding the terms of a contentious custody battle in a divorce, the courts will typically look at several factors. These will include which parent has the strongest relationship with the kids as well as which parent has the ability to provide for and care for the children after the divorce. Typically, divorce will mean that a stay-at-home parent will need to re-enter the workforce, so simply being the parent that has been home doesn't ensure you will receive full custody.
In fact, the courts generally believe that ensuring healthy, positive relationships with both parents is key to minimizing the impact of divorces on the children involved. As such, they tend to favor shared custody and co-parenting arrangements. Barring special circumstances, like addiction or abuse, the courts will likely strive to split both parenting time and parenting authority between both parents.
Co-parenting means you need to work together for your kids
You and your ex don't need to like one another or want to spend a lot of time together to make co-parenting work. You just need to agree that you will both try to do what is best for the children. That includes shielding them from your arguments and criticisms of the other parent. It also means compromising and working together when plans change.
Your parenting plan isn't set in stone. Sometimes, a kid gets sick or your ex gets stuck in traffic, meaning visitation won't happen as planned. You need to be flexible about finding mutually agreeable solutions to these kinds of issues.
The sooner you and your ex can agree to focus on the best interests of your children, the better things will be for everyone involved. Co-parenting can be difficult, especially if you don't agree on certain aspects of parenting, but you should do your best to make it work for everyone in your family.