Child custody cases are emotionally challenging for everyone, including the attorneys involved. In these cases, attorneys play many roles, including litigation support, mediator, case manager, and negotiator. While not all attorneys who practice family law will handle child custody matters, most do at some point in their career. Knowing what to expect if you hire one is important for parties on both sides of a child custody matter. Below is a list of the primary roles of a child custody lawyer:
Advocating for the Child’s Best Interests
When a couple cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the matter is brought before a family court judge. The judge will determine what is in the child’s best interests and has broad discretion in making their decision. A lawyer may also be called upon to assist with this process or help settle any disputes that arise. To fulfill these duties, the child custody attorney needs to explain some common methods used for determining custody arrangements and their benefits and limitations.
Facilitating Communication between Parents
If the parents of your child are no longer together, then you can be sure that emotions will be running high. There is bound to be conflict at some point, even if there wasn’t any before. A child custody lawyer can help facilitate communication between the parents. This can help keep negotiations moving forward and ensure that the child’s best interests are always considered.
Educating Parents about their Rights and Obligations
A child custody lawyer can help educate parents about their rights and obligations. They can provide information about the child custody process and what to expect. They can also help negotiate agreements between the parents.
Negotiating a Parenting Plan
When negotiating a parenting plan, a child custody lawyer will ensure that the child’s best interests are considered. This may include working with both parents to create a schedule that allows for plenty of time with each parent and ensuring that the child has access to important people in their lives, such as grandparents or other family members. A parenting plan lays out how the child will be shared between the parents. A child custody lawyer can help negotiate a parenting plan that meets the needs of both parents and the child.
Representing One Parent in Court
One parent may need to go to court to fight for custody or visitation rights in some cases. A child custody lawyer can represent that parent in court and argue their case.
Handling Child Custody Disputes
When parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, it can result in a child custody dispute. A child custody lawyer can help resolve these disputes and ensure that the child’s best interests are considered.
Drafting Legal Documents
A child custody lawyer can draft legal documents such as custody agreements and parenting plans. This can help ensure that the documents are legally binding and meet the child’s specific needs.
Assisting with Guardianship Proceedings
If one of the parents cannot care for the child, a child custody lawyer can assist with guardianship proceedings. This can help ensure that the child is placed in a safe and loving home.
Helping with Child Custody Modifications
Suppose there is a change in circumstances, and it is no longer in the child’s best interests to live with one parent. In that case, a child custody lawyer can help petition for a modification to the custody agreement.
When parents go through a divorce, child custody is one of the most important issues to be resolved. A child custody lawyer can help by advocating for the child’s best interests and creating a parenting plan that meets the needs of both parents and the child.