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Do you want a jury handling your child custody determination?

270124_S.jpgFor most families in Columbia who have to undergo the divorce process, minimizing the strife and contentiousness of the proceeding is an important goal. If you have children, unless one of the parents is found "unfit," you will have to maintain some type of relationship with your former spouse. You will likely have some form of joint custody arrangement, sharing legal and physical custody with your former spouse and that will be easier if you part on civil terms.

After all, you may have to see your child's other parent numerous times during the week when you exchange the child and if they are involved in many school or extracurricular activities, you will probably encounter them at those events.

When parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, a judge typically goes through the numerous statutory factors to determine how to divide the child's time. A group in California is attempting to put together enough signatures for a ballot initiative that would open up child custody determination to being heard by a jury.

This may seem trivial; what's the difference between a judge or a jury? For one, you never know how a jury is going to rule. They can be a wildcard in the judicial process and given an emotional topic like a custody determination, it would seem risky for any parent to give a jury that much power over their life and that of their child's.

It is not clear if there is enough support to obtain the more than 365,000 signature necessary, but if it were to succeed, any parent would need to have a very careful discussion with their attorney before they authorized taking such a path.

Source: patch.com, "Measure Would Put Child Custody Battles in the Hands of Juries," SoCal Patch staff, June 18, 2016

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