Few things will leave you as worried as the possibility of a child custody fight. Preparedness is critical because the court system tends to favor processes over fancy arguments when it comes to custody issues. Do these four things to ensure you'll be prepared.
Hire Counsel Immediately
A child custody attorney is a type of family lawyer who specializes in these kinds of cases. Even in the smallest of American counties, there are usually at least a few people who represent clients in child custody disputes. Ask people you know who've been through the child custody process about who they worked with. Also, you can contact your local courthouse and ask them for names. While the court can't specifically recommend one attorney over another, they can at least point you to a list.
Maintain Reasonable Communication with the Other Parent
The important thing on this front is to focus on dealing with practical issues. Do not fall into the trap of rehashing old relationship issues. A good starting point is to hash out an informal visitation arrangement while the two of you sort out a formal agreement. Even if you find the other person tough to deal with, try to give communication a chance as long as they can stay on topic and aren't abusive.
If the other person refuses to communicate, make notes of the times and dates when you tried. Especially if you can't even locate them to serve them with papers, you may need to ask the court to issue an order in their absence. However, it's best to make a good-faith effort to locate them and talk about custody before going for a more drastic solution.
Whenever there are specific problems, try to document those. If the other parent is inconsistent in handling visitation times during the informal period, not when the issues happened. Similarly, if there is any visible evidence of neglect or abuse, take pictures. Stick to serious concerns rather than complaints over parenting styles. Your goal is to have something to present if there are serious concerns for the kid's well-being.
Reach a Formal Agreement or Request a Court Order
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not making the arrangement official. If the other parent is being reasonable, have your child custody lawyer draft an agreement. The other side should retain counsel and ask their attorney to review the draft and make amendments as necessary. If negotiation proves to be impossible, your child custody attorney can ask the court to schedule a conference to sort the case out.
For more info, contact a local child custody attorney.Share