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How Child Custody is Decided in San Diego in 2013

In the San Diego courts, arrangements for child custody can be done very informally such as by mutual agreement between the parents, or they could take a formal and often acrimonious turn and have to be settled through judicial intervention. Many parents in San Diego prefer to reach agreements on the parenting plan and regarding both legal and physical custody.

A Vital Aspect Forgotten

The most satisfactory conclusion, psychologically and otherwise, is when parents arrive at an amiable settlement on custody and visitation rights. At times like these, parents are able to dispassionately discuss their needs, the best interests of the child or children, family values that they both hold dear, and how to bring up their children with the least possible drain on their financial resources. Many parents who separate are able to settle child custody in a mutually acceptable and mature manner. Unfortunately though, with many other parents, an arrangement is arrived at without sufficient forethought as to the consequences, and without due consideration of the needs of the children. This can lead to issues in the future so it is very important to understand the agreement being reached and consider carefully. Using a planner or calendar can be helpful to see how this agreement will work into the near and far future.


When parents are not able to arrive at a mutual agreement on custody and visitation arrangements, there are still several other options open without before having to seek legal recourse. Some parents look to people whom they both know and trust to help them overcome their impasse. Such people could be close friends, extended family members, the local clergy, or even counselors. A more recent way of settling such family issues, which includes divorce as well, is through mediation, a route strongly encouraged by the judiciary in San Diego and mandatory in San Diego if the parents cannot reach an agreement by themselves. In mediation [called Family Court Services in the San Diego Superior Court], the final decision still rests with the Judge and not the mediator if the parents cannot come to an agreement in mediation. The mediator’s role is that of a neutral third-party facilitator who helps parents look at things from a more settled perspective to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement. The emphasis in mediation is on a joint resolution through problem-solving by collaboration.

Custody Mediation

Mediation has proved to be successful enough for San Diego to mandate it as the primary step in resolving custody or visitation disputes. Many states and local jurisdictions provide court-approved custody mediation in certain circumstances as when joint custody is in dispute. Custody mediation has proved to be the preferred solution in an overwhelming number of disputes even though the outcome might not be to the satisfaction of one or both parties. This is an ugly situation but the feelings of adults are secondary as the law in San Diego is clear that the governing standard is the child’s best interests.

The Adversarial Process

As a last effort at resolution in custody disputes, parents might have to resort to attorneys to represent respective positions. Attorneys are duty-bound to brief their clients on their rights and limitations, and the probable outcome of their stand. If they are unable to invoke a privately-negotiated settlement then further litigation is the final choice.

A Professional Attorney at Your Side

Doppelt and Forney, APLC is a leading San Diego family law firm experienced in all facets of child custody and visitation rights resolution. Part of the representation is advice and counsel for the mandatory mediation process.

Roy M. Doppelt has been providing the community with a high standard of legal services in all aspects of family law which includes divorce, annulments, separation agreements, and pre-nuptial settlements. It offers a free 30-minute virtual consultation by way of an initial discussion.

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