Navigating a divorce can be incredibly stressful, especially if there are children involved. While both parents usually want what’s best for the kids, divorces are rarely amicable and it’s common for opinions to differ regarding what type of custody agreement is really in a child’s best interest.
Sometimes, parents choose to resolve custody issues without getting lawyers involved, although assigning custody always requires bringing the case before a judge. There are, however, a few scenarios that really require hiring a Child custody attorney. Read on to find out about a few examples of when hiring a lawyer should be considered an absolute necessity.
The Other Parent Has a Lawyer
Each parent deserves a level playing field. If one person hires a lawyer, the other generally does the same simply because child custody lawyers have far more experience handling matters of family law. If things are likely to get contentious, which they often do when one party retains legal counsel, hiring a lawyer will increase the chances of a favourable outcome in court.
Ex-Spouses Live in Different States
When a child custody case crosses jurisdiction, things can get complicated fast. Laws regarding child custody and visitation vary by location and most parents don’t have an intimate familiarity with those laws. Hiring a lawyer is a must for dealing with these kinds of complicated cases.
Potential for Child Endangerment
Any parent who believes his or her child’s safety could be at risk needs to retain legal counsel. No judge wants to place a child in danger, but if he or she isn’t made sufficiently aware of the situation during the hearing, it could lead to the assignment of joint custody. In general, joint custody is preferable to sole custody when it comes to ensuring the health and wellbeing of children, but if there’s a potential for abuse or endangerment, that’s the exception to the rule. Hire a lawyer and consider taking out a restraining order.
The Other Parent Is Denying Visits
If a spouse is denying visits with the child or cancelling them at the last minute, that’s a problem. Obstructing contact of a co-parent with a child isn’t good for anyone involved. Hire a lawyer and, in the meantime, start keeping a detailed log and documentation of obstructive behaviours to share with the attorney. It’s also wise to keep a record of correspondences with the obstructing parent, as those records could be used as evidence in court.
Potential for the Other Parent to File for Sole Custody
Most judges favour joint custody agreements, which means parents seeking sole custody must prove that it will be in the best interests of the child. Parents who have reason to believe their ex-spouses may attempt to convince the court that they are unfit should hire a lawyer. Even if the other parent’s strategy is unlikely to succeed, it’s not worth the risk.
The Bottom Line
In most cases, divorcing spouses who share custody of their children wind up working out set schedules and routines that work for everyone. Maintaining contact with both parents is almost always in the best interests of the child unless one parent truly is unfit. Unfortunately, people rarely think clearly during divorces, so it’s usually wise to retain legal counsel. Having a lawyer will increase the chances of a favourable outcome, especially when child custody is a contentious issue for both parents.