After a divorce, it is common for both spouses to feel a certain level of distrust and anger towards each other. Child custody issues and visitation rights are perhaps the two most divisive issues between parents who share a child. Arguments can erupt easily, and emotions can run high whenever warring ex-spouses must deal with one another in matters regarding their child.
However, it is important to always remember that how your child views your relationship with your ex-spouse may negatively influence his or her own relationships in the future. That's why you should adopt a policy of interacting with your ex-spouse as if you were at your job. Be polite, limit your use of profanity and refrain from name-calling and other personal attacks. Honor your pickup and drop-off times just as you would show up to work: on time, every time.
It is also important to be clear and specific about your intentions when speaking to your ex-spouse. This helps reduce confusion and helps stimulate positive input from the other party. Remember, a frequent origin of many arguments is that one side will claim to have been blindsided by a decision made by the other parent without his or her prior knowledge.
Another good practice is to get into the habit of writing things down. A well-kept log or journal regarding visitation times, pickup and drop-off locations can go a long way towards showing a California family law judge that you are serious about child custody issues.
Don't use your child as a message courier. In fact, refrain from talking about child custody issues in the child's presence altogether. If you have something to say to teachers, doctors and other professionals, you should write a note about it and send it along with the child. It's better to accompany your ex-spouse whenever those conversations arise. That way both of you can reach a decision regarding your child with the help of that third party.
Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when you have legitimate concerns regarding your child's welfare. California law contemplates that such issues may arise and provides remedies to help ensure the child's best interests. An attorney experienced in child custody matters can assist you in petitioning the court for a modification of your current child custody or visitation order.
Source: The Superior Court of California-County of Santa Clara, "Custody & Visitation" Sep. 18, 2014