Child custody cases can be quite complex, which is why it is vital to be prepared and knowledgeable. A skilled an experienced child custody attorney will be able to navigate you through this difficult process, but it is still important to take an active role in your own case, so you know what to expect and how to contribute to your own goals, needs, and most importantly, your children’s best interests.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions parents ask about child custody:
- What is the difference between legal and physical custody? A parent can have legal custody without physical custody. Legal custody is a parent’s right to make decisions on behalf of the children, including how they will be raised, if they will practice a religion, or issues regarding their health. Physical custody simply refers to where the children will reside. Consider what arrangement will work best for your own circumstances.
- How do courts determine who receives custody? A wide range of factors are considered when it comes to awarding child custody. These factors include the ability of each parent to provide for their children, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the current child custody arrangement. A court will also consider if each parent will respect and be supportive of the children’s relationship with the other parent, as well as their age, special needs, or medical needs.
- How do the courts define what the “best interest” of a child is? The best interests of the children are of the utmost concern to the courts when making a decision regarding custody, so of course, it is important to know what this means. This might vary from state to state, but generally it refers to a child’s ability to maintain relationships with both parents, particularly if this was the status quo prior to the divorce proceedings.
- Do I need a child custody lawyer? If you are in the midst of a child custody case, it is best to have legal help throughout this process. Before decisively choosing not to hire legal representation, you should at least seek a free consultation with an attorney.
- Should I try to obtain a temporary child custody order? Given the length of time it takes for a divorce to reach a final resolution, many pertinent issues that cannot wait are given temporary decisions, including child custody. As such, you might even be required to obtain a temporary child custody order to offer your child stability while the situation is still being assessed.
- What is the difference between mediation and arbitration? The primary difference between these two options is that agreements made through mediation are non-binding in court, whereas agreements reached through arbitration are binding. Both processes have a much less adversarial tone than litigation and are often preferable alternatives.
- How should I prepare for an upcoming child custody hearing? Your child custody attorney should advise you on how to plan for each court appearance. No detail is too small. Things you might not even consider such as dress code or courtroom etiquette can make a big difference and could influence a judge’s perception of you and who you are as a parent.
- Should my ex and I file a parenting plan with the courts? Some states require parents to file a written parenting plan in family court, but even if your state does not require it, submitting one is a wise decision. It will force both you and your ex to make thoughtful decisions when it comes to working together on raising your children. Knowing you will be held accountable for upholding your end of the arrangement means you will be less inclined to make irrational choices you know you cannot stay true to.
- Are judges biased against fathers? In the past, courts were largely biased against fathers and often automatically favored the mother in child custody cases. This type of discrimination is not permitted and gender bias is rarely ever a factor nowadays. For fathers who are concerned about their chances at obtaining child custody, it is imperative that they prepare to present themselves as the option best suited for the needs and interests of the children. Never bash the mother of your children or try to intervene when she is trying to spend time with them.
- Do domestic violence allegations harm one’s chances of winning child custody? Courts are typically hesitant to award custody to parents who have engaged in domestic violence, whether it involved the children or other family members. You can expect them to fully investigate any allegations of abuse prior to making a custody decision. If you have been wrongly accused, you should seek legal representation and be as cooperative as possible with those investigating the situation.
Child Custody Attorneys in Chesterfield County
At DeFazio Bal, our Glen Allen legal team has 50 years of combined legal experience assisting families through difficult and complicated divorces. We are committed to helping you reach your desired outcome while protecting the best interests of your family every step of the way. This is an important decision and you should not face it alone or risk making a costly mistake. Too much is at stake.
Contact us today at (804) 250-3729 to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled child custody attorneys to find out more about how we can help you.