Understanding How The Child Custody System Works
When family law attorneys have to work with clients on child custody cases, people are often unaware of how the system works. If you're looking at child custody lawyers to handle a case, it's wise to familiarize yourself with some of the basics. Explore four issues that all family law attorneys wish their clients understood about the process.
Everything Else Is Separate
Other legal matters are considered separate from the child custody issue unless they have a direct bearing on the welfare of the child involved. That means that whatever might be going on in a divorce proceeding or even a child support dispute will not influence how the court elects to address the question of custody.
Access Is Important
Both parents' rights to have access to the child means the court can impose strict limitations. For example, you may not legally be able to move very far because doing so might deny access. Even if you feel it would better the child's life, the court may put access rights first.
You Won't Deal Much with a Judge
Unless at least one parent pushes for a trial or a hearing, the judge isn't going to feature much in the case. An officer of the court will be appointed by the judge to gather information, interview the parents and the child, conduct conferences, and make recommendations to the court. The judge rarely sees things differently from the court-appointed officer, so you should assume that whatever comes out of the conferences is what the final word on the matter is going to be.
The Best Interests of the Child Are Paramount
One of the hardest jobs for child custody lawyers is making sure their clients stay focused on what's important. In the eyes of the court, the best interests of the child always come first. This means, for example, that the court will strongly favor making sure that both biological parents have regular access to the child and a role in their development.
If you plan to make an argument against a parent based on the best interests of the child, you had better come prepared. A judge isn't going to issue an order solely based on an accusation. Even if the issue is a question of abuse or neglect, the court will want to see documentation. This means you need to file police reports and work with child services to document what happened.