California parents who are involved in a custody battle should keep a few points in mind in order to increase their chances of prevailing if it spills over into a courtroom. One is that they should not try to represent themselves even though it may seem as though this will be a less expensive option. The problem is that a layperson is not familiar with legal terminology or procedure and may also be too driven by emotions.
Parents may also be tempted to lie or to violate orders, and they should avoid this. Lies will usually be found out in court, and a judge will take a violation of orders into consideration when making a decision. It is also important to avoid coaching children. An expert is likely to be able to identify a child who has been coached, and children may also be damaged by being pressured to say negative things about a parent.
However, this does not mean that parents should remain silent during a custody battle. They should speak up when they have questions and raise concerns as they arise.
An attorney who is representing a parent during divorce proceedings can often help develop an effective strategy for gaining custody. There may be circumstances in which a court might not find a parent unfit but the other parent genuinely believes that the environment would be harmful for that child. For example, parents might have very different ideas about religious upbringing, discipline, approaches to education or other aspects of raising the child. However, a court may argue that it is in the child's best interests for the parents to share joint custody so that the child has plenty of time with each parent. In some jurisdictions, depending on the age of the child, the child may be able to express a preference for living with one parent over the other.