For some partners, divorce is the only practical solution to a troubled or unsatisfying relationship. While legal separation can be a difficult process in any situation, it takes on a new level of complexity when there are kids involved. Prolonged or hostile divorce proceedings can negatively impact a child’s development and psychological health, so parents are advised to seek a peaceful solution whenever possible. California law prioritizes the well-being of children, which usually includes regular contact with both parents, in any dispute over custody.

There are several methods that separating parents can use to determine child custody status following the divorce. Couples who want to keep their kids out of the courtroom can elect to pursue mediation or file a collaborative divorce. While there are some significant differences between these two options, both focus on cooperation and compromise rather than adversarial negotiation.

Under normal circumstances, child custody arrangements have a baseline that equally divides the time kids spend with each parent. If there is evidence that exposure to one of the parents is detrimental to the well-being of children, then most or all of the custody rights may be assigned to one of the spouses. It’s also important to consider the impact of a 50/50 custody and visitation split on the kids’ personal and social lives.

While an attorney is not required to participate in out-of-court divorce negotiations, parents should carefully consider getting legal counsel before mediation or collaborative divorce proceedings. Professional insight into family law is an invaluable asset during custody discussions whether they are peaceful or combative. A lawyer may provide advice before and during negotiations as well as directly represent their client if desired.