Child custody law is one of the more contentious areas in the legal field. How you approach a situation when you step into a conference or a hearing is just as important as what your actual argument is. Before you end up in family court, here are a few of the things a child custody attorney will tell you to do.
Put the Child's Interests First
This is the primary directive for every family court in America, and it should be your goal, too. If you and your former partner have to discuss matters, make a point of not doing it in front of your child. Be civil in how you have your conversations, and use your child custody attorney as a shield if your partner can't conduct themselves in a considerate manner. If necessary, direct all discussions through your lawyer.
Present Your Argument and Evidence
It may be tempting to impute your feelings into the situation, but you should do your best to simply lay your argument out to your child custody attorney in the most sensible manner possible. If there are genuinely concerning issues with the other parent, such as criminal behavior or drug use, try to document as much of it as possible. Do not, however, go out of your way to press the issue. Just make your case and leave well enough alone.
Understand How the System Works
The core forms of custody that matter are physical and legal custody. Physical custody is a question of who has the child most of the time. Legal custody covers decision-making issues, such as addressing questions about education, healthcare, and other big matters in raising a kid. Parents who are not assigned physical custody may still have legal custody, allowing them to have a say in how a child will be raised.
In instances where a child is expected to spend roughly equal time with each parent, joint custody can be assigned. This can take some of the pain out of the process for parents as neither one is declared a non-custodial parent. Some judges, however, prefer to assign custody to a specific parent to foster a sense of stability.
The primary factor in assigning custody is the safety and well-being of the child, particularly the ability to have a consistent home setting. Concerns about the health and economic fitness of each parent also play big roles.