When a couple divorces, one of the main concerns going forward is a child custody dispute. If you were never married to the other parent, the question becomes even more complicated. Ideally, you and your ex will be able to come to an agreement that is in the best interests of the child and allows each of you constant access to your child(ren). Unfortunately, these issues can become contentious. To help you resolve custody disputes, you may need mediation and help of an experienced family law lawyer.
Options for Child Custody Disputes
If you have already attempted to negotiate directly with your ex, and cannot come to a reasonable resolution, you can informally negotiate with the help a lawyer. This needn't be an adversarial process. Most custody disputes, when managed correctly, can be resolved outside of court. Whenever a custody dispute can be resolved without the intervention of a judge, it is advisable. Good attorneys will facilitate communication and compromise between you and your ex in order to draft an agreement covering how custody will be handled going forward. Or, you can engage in the mediation process — a slightly more formal approach. In many cases, couples are ordered to mediation. It is advised that you have your lawyer with you during mediation, to advise you, protect your parental rights, and assist throughout.
If these options do not bring resolution, a judge will make the decision on child custody and your parenting plan. The courts prioritize the interests of the child, and generally take several factors into consideration, including:
- The child's age and health
- The emotional ties between the child and his or her parents
- The parents' ability to care for the child
- Any history of alcohol or drug abuse
- Any history of domestic violence
- Ties the child might have to his or her current school and neighborhood
If you hope to gain sole custody, the skills with which your case is presented is a critical factor. Any claims about why your children are unsafe with your ex must be fully supported by evidence and testimony. Generally, the court will want both parents to have access to the children, but there are circumstances which warrant sole custody. If you and your ex don't see eye-to-eye, you may be facing an ordeal, with the opposing attorney painting an unfair or inaccurate picture regarding your parenting abilities, way of life or other issue. It is imperative that you have experienced legal representation in difficult custody cases.
How Access Lawyers Group Can Help
Divorces and separations are stressful, emotional, and highly charged. Many couples, in the end, are unable to resolve child custody disputes without legal help. If this sounds like you and your ex, seek the help of a lawyer who can help your family move past a child custody dispute. Contact us at Access Lawyers Group to schedule a consultation.