Parents must be fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of child custody as well as the specific needs of their children. The purpose of this article is to provide insight into the major challenges that child custody lawyers may encounter during a custody case.
Child custody attorneys work in a courtroom and represent the child’s best interests. Most attorneys, however, recognize that it is difficult to do this without a thorough knowledge of the most basic principles of parenting. While many attorneys are able to put together solid arguments, the outcome of many cases hinge on individual circumstances.
Since a court may grant or deny custody to the parents, many parents choose to create and carry out parenting plans with the help of professional consultants. Parenting plans outline what a parent wants for the child and make an evaluation of the two parents’ histories and circumstances. In some cases, a judge will request a plan that will lay out the principles and goals for the child.
Child custody experts recognize that parenting plans should not be the only way for a court to handle a custody dispute. It is possible for the courts to intervene to ensure that a child receives the care and safety it needs. In many instances, the best way to accomplish this is to avoid the situation in the first place. If a parent fails to create a parenting plan or deviates from the guidelines, the courts may mandate changes to ensure that the child receives proper care.
It is also important to understand that a child has the right to enjoy contact with each parent at least once per week, even if the non-custodial parent has not been in a relationship with the child. If visitation issues arise, a judge can order the non-custodial parent to refrain from interfering with the other parent’s contact with the child. Often, a judge will issue an order to ensure that the non-custodial parent receives some type of physical interaction with the child per week.
Parents must do extensive research into the complex process of parenting. Even after a parenting plan is created, most states have ongoing laws that govern how courts handle custody and visitation matters. If there is an issue with how the courts have handled one of these matters, the new plan must be evaluated against the current laws.
No matter how often a judge orders visitation or how many parenting plans a parent creates, parenting issues can continue to arise. It is important to document everything that occurs with a child. A judge is required to document the basis for any changes in custody and visitation arrangements. While documentation is essential, in most cases the parenting plan or legal document remains the final word.
A plan that reflects parenting concerns may not necessarily be the same plan created by a couple in the past. For instance, an increasing number of couples are requesting joint custody or that a third party take on parenting responsibilities for the child. No plan can encompass all the possible outcomes that may occur in a case.
Lawyers must closely monitor how the court is handling cases and how legal documents are resolving them. Mothers’ rights to leave the home and to raise their children remain paramount to many couples. During this time, a mother may be given sole custody. The court may create a parenting plan that will allow the father to remain involved in the parenting process, but the mother’s involvement is legally guaranteed.
Legal changes affecting parenting have also become widespread. For example, parents now often seek joint custody after a divorce or separation. Custody orders may cover both parents, or a parent may request that he or she be considered the “primary” parent.
When family law is being handled, it is important to know how the court’s orders are being implemented. Lawyers must always have their clients are fully aware of the many ways in which the courts are responding to a dispute. Although it is possible to be a successful lawyer without full knowledge of all the legal nuances involved in this type of litigation, many parents are required to educate themselves on the latest rulings.