When people with children think about divorce, what do they fear most?  Custody.  

Custody.  What an ugly word.  Does it mean ownership?  Does it mean possession?  “The suspect was taken into custody.”

The courts make orders for “custody and visitation.”  They name a “custodial parent.”

“Visitation.”  How insulting can it be that you are “awarded” “visitation” with your own children?

Two words go with custody: win and lose.  No, three words: win, lose and battle.  Custody battle.

There it is, right on your petition for dissolution of marriage: custody.  You have to choose what variety of “custody” to ask for, waving that battle flag at the spouse who will be served that petition.

It really doesn’t have to be that way.  A number of states have abolished “custody” and replaced that word with the realistic expression, “parenting plan.”  

Those cowboys in Montana, going through divorce, work out parenting plans.  Those effete Easterners in Massachusetts work out parenting plans.  Those ranchers in Colorado have court forms that say Parenting Plans to define “Parental Responsibilities.”  Those gazers upon Russia in Alaska, divorced, have parenting plans, you betcha!  Don’t mess with Texas, ‘cuz they have parenting plans. Those rugged North Dakotans, too.  Florida.  Georgia.  New Hampshire.  New Jersey. Tennessee.  West Virginia.  California?  No.

An attempt was made in 1989 to eliminate those inflammatory and possessory words, custody and visitation, from the California Family Code.  There was Senate Bill 1306 and Assembly Bill 1612.  Jay Folberg, professor emeritus and former dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law, wrote SB 1306.  

Professor Folberg, contacted by email, said that …

(He never answered.  I got no information from California Senate or Assembly judiciary committees.)

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