High-Conflict Child Custody Lawyers in San Diego
Get the Help You Need During a Complex Custody Dispute
Determining custody is rarely an easy process. Even the most friendly separations can become heated when children are involved. A tough divorce proceeding can turn stressful, fiery and complicated when parents disagree on what is best for their children.
If you are involved in a San Diego child custody case that has gotten into high conflict problems, it's critical that you have an experienced family law attorney on your side that can protect your rights as a parent while keeping the best interests of your children at heart. At Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., we work diligently to bring about a quick positive resolution to your child custody case while keeping stress and drama to a minimum. Call us to find out how we can help you.
Early Warning Signs
There are many red flags early on that should make you aware that you are one part of a high-conflict couple. Warnings signs include a lack of communication, threats, manipulative behavior and regular arguments. These types of behaviors can become patterns that don't change.
Productive communication is key to resolving high-conflict issues. Negative communication between two parents won't help and lead to anger and blame. When the conflict continues to escalate, deciding on joint custody might be impossible. Shared child custody in San Diego requires ongoing communication and cooperation. Ongoing contact between two high-conflict exes will likely only lead to more fighting.
Alcohol or Drug Abuse
There are a number of issues that can exacerbate conflicts within family relationships and which need to be dealt with immediately and emphatically. If one parent is suffering from an alcohol-abuse problem or drug addiction, the impact on the children can be dramatic and long-lasting. This is one of the most difficult situations that a parent can face during a divorce proceeding.
If you are the parent who has been accused of alcohol or drug abuse, then you might lose custody or visitation rights. You might also be subject to rigorous drug testing. In such a case it is imperative that you mount a vigorous defense to protect your rights as a parent.
On the other hand, if you are concerned that the other parent of your children has manifested signs of alcohol or drug abuse, then you must take action to protect your children. You may have a very valid fear for your children’s safety while in the care of the other parent.
Establishing Your Case
Your first step will be to establish a pattern of abuse by the other spouse. Having a positive drug test can go a long way to proving there is a drug problem, though it can be difficult to show that a single test is indicative of reoccurring behavior. Any documentation - whether photographs, emails, text messages, or eyewitness testimony - can go a long way to helping support your claim.
Once you have successfully established a pattern of abuse, the next step is to propose a visitation plan that will best protect your children. For instance, a judge can order that a parent with a history of alcohol or drug problems must have supervised visits until he or she can prove continued sobriety. This will require regular and/or random drug tests be administered.
Judges are naturally reluctant to restrict a parent’s access to his or her children, and as such it is necessary to prove that there is a real risk to your children. That’s why it is extremely important to hire a lawyer who has experience with these matters to defend your rights as a parent. These are serious accusations, and no matter what side you are on, you need to be properly represented to avoid any severe consequences that could result.
Mental Health Issues
If one parent is dealing with mental health issues, that could have a detrimental effect on a custody battle. If the parent has a demonstrated history of mental illness, the court may determine that parent is unable to provide a safe home environment. Similar to drug or alcohol abuse, when there is evidence of mental illness, it is possible that a parent could have custody or visitation rights limited or taken away altogether.
As mentioned earlier, the court will do its best to accommodate the rights of both parents to be actively involved in their children’s lives. But this preference will be superseded if the safety of the children is at stake. If a parent’s mental illness takes such a form that it becomes impossible for the parent to offer a reasonable standard of care for the children, then the court can: deny custody, restrict visitation, and order a mental health evaluation (or drug testing).
No matter what the situation, if you have concerns about the safety of your children, or if you are faced with unfairly losing your parental rights, the sooner you take action the better. An experienced family law attorney can start preparing your case immediately and ensure that the future of your family is protected.
Possible Solutions for Complex Child Custody Cases in San Diego
There are some high-conflict custody cases that can be settled in mediation. This is when a neutral party attempts to resolve the issues fairly. Many mediators involved in high conflict cases find that one or both parents are unwilling to budge and won't attempt to come to a fair agreement outside of court. But, mediation is often better than a long, dramatic court case. If it goes to court, every issue you fight about will become public and might be disturbing or unsettling to the children involved.
The best mediators have training in child custody evaluations, family violence issues, parental alienation and the dangers of joint custody in high-conflict families. It is common in a high-conflict case for a mediator to have a pre-mediation screening. This will allow the mediator a chance to determine if both parties are willing to discuss options. Changes can be made to child custody arrangements after the screening process to ensure that the mediation will be successful. If the mediation does not help the spouses communicate effectively, a court date may become necessary.
It's best to avoid a difficult court case, but some high-conflict relationships can't be helped by mediation.
If you are involved in a high-conflict separation, make sure you have a San Diego family law attorney by your side that will fight for your rights and the best interests of your family. Please contact Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. at (858) 458-9500 for a free and comprehensive consultation.
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