Custody Questions: 8 Questions You Should Ask Your Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody cases are challenging for everyone involved. If you are like most parents, you want what is best for your child, but you may believe you are what’s best.
Due to the emotional nature of these cases, seeing clearly isn’t just challenging; it’s nearly impossible. This is why most experts recommend hiring a child custody lawyer.
Upon hiring an attorney for help with your case, there are certain questions you need to ask. Keep reading to learn what those questions are and why they are so important.
1. What is the Difference in Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody?
If you are given legal custody of your child, you make decisions on their behalf. If you have physical custody of your child, it means the child lives with you.
Parents may have legal custody, even if they don’t have physical custody. As a result, you need complete knowledge of the custody options available, such as bird’s nest custody, shared custody, sole custody, etc. An attorney can help you figure out what choice is right for your situation.
2. What Factors Do the Courts Consider When Deciding on Child Custody Cases?
Most courts base their decisions on what is in your child’s best interest. This is done by using the Child’s Best Interest Standard.
Some examples of what this considers includes:
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- The child’s individual needs (if any)
- The child’s wishes
- If there is evidence of drug or alcohol abuse
- Community adjustment factors
While the factors vary from state to state, courts usually consider the stability of the home environment offered by each parent. They also acknowledge each parent’s commitment and interest in caring for the child.
3. Do You Need to File for Child Custody Pro Se?
When you file for child custody pro se, it means you represent yourself while in court. Even if you have gone through the process before, you should seek the counsel of a qualified family law attorney. This is particularly important if your ex has legal representation.
You can also have an attorney help you file the needed paperwork. They can provide advice and guidance, so you are prepared to go to court and represent yourself.
4. Is One Parent More Likely to Get Custody Than the Other?
Based on past cases, there are several states where the law was inclined to award custody to the mother rather than the father. However, today, laws have been changed to be gender-neutral. What this means is that the law regarding custody doesn’t lean to one parent over the other based on their gender alone.
Some states will give sole custody to an unmarried mother. This is especially the case if paternity hasn’t been determined or if the father hasn’t filed for custody rights.
Sometimes, fathers won’t request these rights. That’s because they assume the child’s mother will be awarded sole custody.
However, today, this isn’t the case. There are several cases where a father has won a custody case after filing a petition in court.
5. Who Determines Child Visitation Schedules?
Several people play a role when determining the schedule for child visitation. However, the court has the final say over both visitation and custody.
The court prefers that the parents of the child negotiate the visitation schedules alone; however, some states make it necessary for you to engage in mediation before the court issues the legal custody order. You may also be required to attend parenting classes.
After custodial rights have been assigned, the custodial parent can decide what visitation the other parent receives. While this is true, it must comply with the court order issued.
The parenting time schedule or voluntary visitation has to be submitted to the court to be approved. If parents are unable to agree, the court intervenes and creates a schedule based on the child’s best interests.
6. Do You Need to Seek a Temporary Custody Order?
Some states require you to have a temporary child custody order during the time between your separation and your divorce of the couple. There are other situations; this is advisable.
For example, if one parent is ill, in the hospital, or in the military, the temporary custody order may be necessary.
7. Is Hiring an Attorney Required for Child Custody Cases?
Any child custody case may become complicated and bitter if emotions begin to run high. An experienced and skilled attorney can help you understand your rights and help you prepare for the custody claim.
The attorney you hire can also negotiate on your behalf with the other parent. Even if you can decide on custody amicably, your attorney will help you with the paperwork and filing for the case.
While all this is true, it is not a legal requirement that you hire an attorney.
8. How Long Will Your Case Take?
Unfortunately, there’s no way your attorney can answer this question with absolutes. Several factors may impact how long your case takes.
Have You Found the Right Child Custody Lawyer?
There are several factors you need to consider when hiring a child custody lawyer. While this is true, you are going to be better off with this legal representation, then without it.
If you need help with your child custody case or any family law matter, contact us today. Our team can help you understand your rights and what you need to do during the case. Knowing what to expect and do will help you through this complex and emotional process.