Divorce happens. Parents get divorced for various reasons and most states have the concept of no fault divorce.
In order to finalize a divorce decree, parents unfortunately have to enter a court of law. When children are involved the situation becomes a little bit more complicated. The assumption is that despite a divorce two parents are adults, that can actually discuss and put the needs of their children ahead of their own issues with each other.
Parents do have the option of settling issues including child custody outside of court. If there are no abuse issues or substance abuse issues, then joint custody is assumed to be in the best interest of the children, after all children interacted with both parents during the marriage in diverse ways. Again the assumption is that there was no substance abuse or abuse during the marriage.
It becomes a nightmare situation when parents who are quite capable of agreeing with each other, allow a court, (in particular the Riverside Superior Court), to dictate how they are supposed to interact with their children.
The court doesn’t know your children. The court actually could care less about your children. The court is in the business to remain in business, with attorneys and evaluators and the other court employed personnel who earn a salary. Your children have turned into a money spinning exercise with a price tag attached.
There are of course the few select parents who actually thrive on using children as weapons and pawns to hurt the other parent, as they are bitter and cannot contain their hatred of the other parent. In those situations the court will actually pit those parents against each other, with children again used as the weapon of choice. There are scenarios where children are actually used as sanctions. A concept that is completely illegal and a human rights violation. Is the court going to admit that it made a mistake? No. The court has a vested interest in not admitting any liability for their wrong doing and will escalate the issue further, sacrificing your children as a result. Any normal parent, who cares about his/her children, would be outraged as to what a court has actually done but not that parent who uses a child as a weapon or tool to hurt the other parent.
Parents who agree on the best interest of the THEIR children have the ability to come up with a joint custody agreement out of court. It is called a stipulated agreement, where both parents agree as to what they think is in the best interest of THEIR children and where living arrangements regarding joint physical custody and joint legal custody are put down in writing. Some software programs such as custody x, (http://www.custodyxchange.com/) assist parents in developing a parenting plan that can be adopted as a joint stipulation. This is not an endorsement of a specific product but it has been useful in developing a proposed parenting plan for discussion with the other parent.
Your children are not a prize to be won. They are children who despite their parents going through a divorce deserve a childhood. In most cases as long as parents are friendly and cordial to each other in front of their children, children will adapt to the situation and thrive.