Navigating the end of a relationship is often an emotional and complicated process. And this can be especially true when children are involved.
When it comes to obtaining child custody, many parents hope to do so without having to go to court so that they can reduce the time, expense, and stress involved for themselves and their children. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to obtain full child custody without going to court at all. However, there are things you can do to simplify the process and avoid the need for court intervention as much as possible.
If you have questions about obtaining full custody of your child and aren’t sure where to begin, use our guide below to learn more. Then, contact the team of Davis family law attorneys at Pakpour Banks LLP and see how we can help you move forward.
Can I Get Full Child Custody Without Going to Court?
In short, no. Unfortunately, you cannot get full child custody without going to court. This is because, under California law, child custody is something that must be ordered by a court with jurisdiction over the children involved. Thus, any custody determinations in California must inherently go through the court system.
That said, there are certain steps you can take to significantly reduce the amount of time spent litigating the matter in court.
Tips for Obtaining Sole Child Custody Without Going to Court More Than Necessary
Going to court is never fun and rarely simple, particularly for child custody-related matters where emotions are high and personal matters will likely need to be addressed. Thus, it is almost always preferred to avoid overly drawn-out litigation where possible.
While there’s no way to avoid court involvement entirely, here are a few tips to keep in mind to keep it at a minimum.
Have Cooperative Discussions with Your Former Spouse
In many cases, custody disputes arise, at least in part, due to certain disagreements between the child’s parents. When this is the case, it is understandable that the parents may not communicate well or want to communicate at all. However, more often than not, one of the best ways to avoid a lengthy legal battle over custody is through open and amicable communication between the two parents.
When both parents are willing to work together to discuss their goals and desires regarding custody of their children, this can help prevent present and future conflicts between the parties. In turn, this can help reduce the time spent arguing over disputed topics in court.
Even if the parties can’t resolve all of their disagreements, any progress you can make voluntarily outside of court is a success in the long run.
Try to Reach a Joint Custody Agreement and Parenting Plan
If you and your former spouse can have productive and civil conversations, it is certainly worth trying to reach a joint custody agreement and parenting plan that you both agree to. Custody agreements and parenting plans can address topics such as the following:
- Sole vs. joint legal and physical custody;
- Specific parental responsibilities;
- Decision-making authority over the child’s life;
- Apportionment of parenting time; and
- Parenting time schedules.
Once you and your child’s other parent have agreed on all applicable terms of your custody and parenting arrangement, you can request that your agreement be entered as a court order. You do this by filing a Form FL-355 Stipulation and Order for Custody and/or Visitation of Children, along with a copy of your agreement setting forth the terms of your custody arrangement in writing. You can either attach your own written agreement or use Form FL-341 Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Order Attachment instead.
Again, it’s important to remember that agreeing to a custody arrangement with your spouse will not allow you to avoid court involvement entirely. But once the judge reviews the Stipulation for Custody and the attached written agreement, if they choose to enter the agreement as a court order, this will be just as effective as any other court order for custody. And even if the judge changes some of the provisions, being able to reach an agreement on custody and parenting plans directly with your former partner can help provide a clear framework for the judge. In other words, the more you agree to, the less time you will spend in court. The less time you spend in court, the less money your custody case will cost you.
Sometimes, parents want to work out a solution together, but their communication skills have broken down to the point where they cannot effectively compromise. When both parents aren’t able to negotiate custody terms with each other directly, another option to consider is mediation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process involving a neutral third-party—called a mediator—who helps the parties negotiate any disputed custody matters. The mediator’s goal is to guide the parents toward an amicable resolution in an effort to avoid lengthy litigation.
The goal of mediation is the same as the goal when the parties attempt to discuss and negotiate directly—to reach a mutual agreement regarding custody and avoid the need for court intervention as much as possible. However, mediation can be a great option for parents who are not able to stay on track or have productive conversations when communicating directly with one another. Sometimes, having the assistance of a neutral mediator can help by reducing tension between the parties. A mediator can keep the parties in separate rooms if necessary and act as a facilitator for negotiations. Your mediator cannot give you legal advice. You can bring your lawyer to the mediation to get legal advice during negotiations. But a mediator can provide objective feedback to both parties on any disputed issues.
Speak with an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today
When it comes to something as important as the custody of your children, you need someone in your corner with knowledge and experience who knows how to be an effective advocate for you and your family.
At Pakpour Banks LLP, we have successfully represented clients in custody disputes throughout Northern California. We understand how important and life-changing custody matters can be, and we hope to have the opportunity to help you too.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and see how our family law attorneys can help you.