Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who Decides: You or the Judge?

You and your spouse should be able to resolve the issues of custody and visitation privately or through mediation or collaborative programs. But if you can't reach an agreement on your own or through one of these resources, the only alternative is to have a judge make the decisions for you.

The judge is given one test to apply: What is in the best interest of the child? The best interests of the parents are irrelevant.

Take the case of a mother who has primary custody of a child and plans to remarry a man who lives 1,000 miles away. She wants to take the child and move to be with her new husband. The child's father protests that his weekend visits with the child would be impossible. If the move is allowed, the child will have to change schools, lose friends, and see the father only irregularly. Situations like this have become more frequent in recent years as our society becomes more mobile and employers transfer their employees around the world.

I have decided many cases with similar themes, some for the parent who moved, some for the stay-at-home parent. In one case in which I denied a move similar to the situation described above, the mother canceled the wedding to avoid losing substantial time with her child.

Be aware that when you take child issues to court, you are turning over complete control of major elements of their future to a judge who doesn't know you or your children. In most cases, the judge has had little or no training in child development or psychology.
Judge Roderic Duncan

To read this article in its entirety, please click here.

For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at

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