Tennis Star’s California Child Custody Battle Forces Her To Withdraw From U.S. Open
If you are embroiled in a child custody battle it can be difficult to go about your day-to-day routine. In some cases, it can be difficult to even do your job. Tennis phenom Victoria Azarenka, who gave birth to her son Leo 8 months ago, knows this all too well. Azarenka recently withdrew from the U.S. Open because she is not legally allowed to take her son out of the state of California. The U.S. Open, which is held in New York, is one of four annual major tennis events in the world. Azarenka was poised to make a comeback after the birth of her son. Due to a custody battle with the boy’s father, however, Azarenka’s comeback will have to wait. It appears as though the boy’s father has refused to allow Azarenka to take the child to the tournament with her.
Azarenka and her son’s father legally separated in June. When parents divorce or separate it is necessary to establish custody for any children that may be affected. In California, parents are prohibited from relocating with their children while custody is being determined. This includes temporary relocations without the consent of the other parent. Azarenka herself is free to leave the state. However, she has repeatedly said that it is her intention to focus on her family and the best interests of her son. If this requires her to miss one of the biggest tennis events of the year, then so be it. Missing the U.S. Open could actually be a huge win for Azarenka inside the courtroom.
While Azarenka has said that she hopes that she and her son’s father can “put aside their differences” and “more effectively work as a team” to focus on finding an arrangement that is beneficial for their son, the court may be forced to intervene if they are unsuccessful. When courts are challenged to award custody of a minor child they will weigh factors that help them determine the best situation for that child. California prefers to award joint physical and legal custody to both of a child’s parents, when appropriate. In most cases, joint custody will be awarded unless it is challenged by one of the parents. In this case, the father of Azarenka’s child may be arguing that it is not in the best interest of their son to award custody to his mother because of her busy job and global schedule.
Courts prefer to award custody that supports stability in a child’s life. The fact that Azarenka is a global tennis phenomenon who jets from one continent to the next could conceivably prevent stability in her son’s life. However, the court will also consider the age of a child, established routines and customs, and other factors that offer context. There is no right or wrong way to raise a child. Some would argue that giving a child the opportunity to experience global cultures and see the world is a great way to enrich his or her life. When a child is as young as Azarenka’s eight-month-old son an untraditional childhood may not be a bad thing. It will definitely be a factor that goes into the final determination.
Courts prefer to ensure that children of divorced or separated parents have continuing and frequent contact with both parents. The fact that Azarenka was willing to pull out of one of the four most prestigious tennis tournaments of the year speaks volumes about her commitment to her son. Her official statement also references her desire to have a custody arrangement that allows her to travel and ensures that her son “has a consistent presence from both of his parents.” A court, when reviewing her child custody matter, should recognize her sacrifice and passion for her family. Her actions have helped to display that she will put her child before her demanding tennis career. In determining custody, a court is likely to view this act favorably.
Child custody battles in California can be lengthy. Fortunately for Azarenka, the U.S. Open is the final major tennis event of the year. She will be able to focus on fighting for the custody of her child in California without distraction. California will weigh all of the evidence, testimony, and information that it believes to be relevant in the determination of custody. Azarenka’s career as a tennis star and how that will affect her son will likely be at the center of the debate.
Contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Berenji & Associates to learn more about how your job may affect your child custody case. Our legal team has more than two decades of experience helping families design and execute child custody agreements that serve the best interests of the children. Schedule your free consultation to learn about how we may be able to help you and your family today.