Child Custody Guidelines

The information contained in these guidelines is an effort of FCS to provide staff with guidelines which may be helpful in developing child sharing arrangements.

The material was developed by FCS counselors. Their research included a review of the literature on child development, children of divorce, and material from other courts. We especially acknowledge the information provided by King County, Washington Court and mental health professionals including William Hodges, Ph.D., author of "Interventions for Children of Divorce, Custody Access and Psychotherapy."

The information is set forth as guidelines and is not to be taken as a set of hard, fast rules in all custody matters. Each child and each family is unique, and many factors must be considered in developing child-sharing plans.

In any child-sharing plan, the parents must consider the child's need for a relationship with both parents. A child benefits from the silent permission his or her parents may give that, "It is all right to love your other parent," even though the parents have agreed to go their separate ways. The support of the child's parental relationship is the key to success in any child sharing arrangements.

California child custody laws are predicted on the premise that children whose parents have separated will benefit from frequent and continuous contact with the parents. The primary focus of the law is the best interest of the child.

Divorce/separation can be a time when both parents and the children feel overwhelmed by the losses and changes. The spouses are being divorced, not the children. The family is reorganizing from one household into two households. In the children's eyes, parents are forever. Both parents should make every effort to continue to play a vital role in the lives of their children. Children must feel that they have two parents who love them and should feel comfortable in either of their households. This can be done only with the cooperation of both parents. When the parents cooperate, the children's positive mental health is guaranteed.

There are many variations of child sharing. There are two legal terms, which are important for us to understand, legal and physical custody.

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