The thought of proving in court whether or not you have a right to be with your children is overwhelming. However, divorce is an unfortunate reality for many parents. More than half of all single parents have been married at some point. The average divorce rate hovers between 40 and 50 percent.
Of course, child custody representation concerns more than just divorced parents. Some parents are no longer or never have been married. In the past, most courts considered the mother to be the appropriate caregiver. Fortunately, this concept, often referred to as the “tender years doctrine,” has gone by the wayside.
Reason 1: Child Custody Law is Complicated
Should you attempt to navigate a divorce and custody agreement on your own without an attorney? Before you decide to represent yourself in court consider the following:
Child custody cases begin with discovery or the gathering of information. The law dictates how this information must be shared with the opposing side. For example, child custody proceedings require certain filings at certain times, and arriving at a child support agreement is a complicated process.
Unless you have been trained as a family law attorney, navigating the ins and outs of basic court procedures can be overwhelming. Missing an important filing deadline or inadvertently violating a rule of law can wreck your hopes of a fair ruling.
Reason 2: Your Former Spouse Will Have an Attorney
Unless you have a mutual agreement with your spouse to avoid attorneys, chances are very good that their interests will be represented in court by a lawyer. If their attorney is known to be particularly aggressive, you will be at a huge disadvantage when the case heads to court.
Hiring a child custody lawyer means that you have hired a licensed, well-educated professional to help you sort through the complicated family law system. Beyond that, your attorney will be your advocate in front of a judge. Their job is to represent the best interests of you and your children. The consequences of the court proceedings will impact your family for the rest of your life.
Reason 3: Even Amicable Former Spouses Can Change Their Minds
At the beginning of a divorce, some spouses can make and adhere to custody and child support agreements outside of court. As time goes by, your former spouse may change their mind about the initial agreement.
For instance, you may have agreed to live in a certain geographical area. Over time, your former spouse remarries and decides to move out of that area. No doubt the move will necessitate revisiting the original custody agreement. If the move requires moving across state lines, you are now faced with understanding the laws of another state.
What to Look For in a Child Custody Attorney
How do you choose the attorney that will advocate for you and your children in court? Look for an attorney with a long-standing record of success in child custody cases. Communication is essential for the attorney and client relationship. You will want an attorney who keeps you in the loop as your case progresses through the court system. Finally, look for an attorney that will keep a cold head when things get heated.