A child custody battle can be one of the toughest fights of your life. Dealing with a lawsuit in any situation isn’t easy. Going against a former partner over legal custody of your child is much worse.
Not every divorce leads to one parent fighting another over their child, but it happens. When it does, you’ll need all the help you can get. Even if you believe yourself to be much more responsible, you never know what skeletons will get pulled out of the closet.
Here are seven reasons to hire a lawyer for your custody case.
1. Your Ex is Moving Away
Two individuals who divorced amicably often share responsibility for their child. However, it’s a challenge to navigate the legal system when one of them lives in another state or is planning to move there soon. The logistics of custody and visitation get complicated dealing with a different state’s legal system.
If you share custody, who will be responsible for transportation costs? Will your child spend an extended period of time at one house before coming back? What happens if someone can’t make visitation or cancels?
Hire an attorney who has experience with these kinds of cases. They’ll also offer advice on what to expect and how to manage a distanced shared custody or setting up visitation.
2. You’re Unfamiliar With the Process
A quick google search will pull up directions and tips for navigating the child custody legal system. However, you can’t view this information when you attend meetings or speak to a judge. There will also likely be options you’ll miss out on in your search.
Child custody lawyers know the process and have experience working the system. They can help set up an existing custody agreement that benefits both parties, as well as change an existing one if the parents’ circumstances have changed.
3. There’s Been a History of Abuse
A history of abuse is troublesome for both sides when dealing with children.
Your former partner may lie and blow situations out of proportion. You may have trouble standing up for yourself when facing down your abuser.
Even if the other parent was extremely abusive to their spouse and child, the court could make the judgment that you allowed a violent element to exist in your household. In a worst-case scenario, both parents could lose custody of their child.
Some factors considered in court include how the alleged violence affected the child, the severity and frequency, and any evidence of abuse. The best lawyer will help you gather all the evidence you need and present it to the judge.
Depending on how the case goes, the accused may only get supervised visitation or lose all rights to visitation. The court could also issue a restraining order or an order of protection.
4. They Hire a Lawyer
There’s always a chance the opposition won’t just lay down and concede to your demands. Maybe they think they deserve to have physical custody of their child or want to change the terms of your agreement.
If a parent is accused of something, then they’re going to hire their own lawyer who is also experienced in child custody law. They may also talk to a lawyer to get some basic advice.
Most people only get a lawyer when the other person lawyers up because that shows they’re preparing for a fight. If you can’t afford an attorney, you can always go in for a one-time consultation. There are also free resources for victims of domestic violence if that’s your situation.
5. Fight a Child Custody Evaluation
Some states will set up a custody evaluation before introducing the custody case to the judge. An employee interviews each parent and child to analyze the current dynamic. This often includes a home visit to see the residential setting and observe how everyone interacts with one another.
A typical evaluation should take about 15 hours of examination. In some cases, they’ll also talk to any previous social workers, teachers, and family members.
There’s a lot of opportunities for this evaluation to go wrong in one way or another. If it does, you’ll want to reach out to your local child custody law firm.
An attorney can help dispute the evaluation and ask the judge to review it in a court hearing. Although it’ll be your word against an appointed staff member, the lawyer can help guide you through the process. Their word will also lend your case some credibility.
6. Your History is Complicated
Everyone has a buried past, and something like a child custody case tends to dig it all up. Your co-parent may attempt to sway things in their favor by bringing up issues you’ve had in the past. These can include a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, and prior legal trouble.
Even if something happened over ten years ago, it’ll still look bad for you. A lawyer can help smooth things over and prove to the court that you’ve put in the effort to improve your life since then.
7. Find the Best Option for Both Parties
Not every child custody case is a fight for the right to parent. In most cases, it’s about finding out the best option for two people who want to keep their child in their lives.
The four main types of child custody include legal, physical, sole, and joint.
Legal custody gives a parent full responsibility. Physical custody has the child living with one parent.
Sole custody usually refers to sole legal custody or sole physical custody. Most people have both, but some rare legal cases split responsibility between the two parents.
Joint custody gives both parents equal responsibility, with the two deciding who lives with whom.
Hire An Attorney Near Me
There are a lot of reasons to hire a lawyer. The most important one is that you shouldn’t have to fight this battle alone. An attorney can help you set up your case, iron out all the details, and represent you in court.
Get all the help you need to give your child everything they deserve. That may mean opening up to your former partner or writing them out of the equation.
Check out our other articles for more information on family and parenting.