Child custody is based on the child’s best interests. Complicated custody cases often involve a parent with poor mental health, alienation by one parent against the other, abuse, or addiction. When one parent wants to move out of state, or the children have special needs, figuring out what is best for the children becomes even more complicated.
When can you get child custody orders?
You can get custody orders as soon as the parents are no longer living together after the divorce or paternity action has been filed. Child custody orders can either be temporary (intended for only a certain period of time) and modified at any time, or more permanent, which require a change of circumstances or other factors to modify the order.
We work with therapists and other experts to make sure that your concerns are heard, and your relationship with your children is as strong as possible. We can help you develop a plan and help you put the right foundation in place so you can avoid future conflict and litigation.
Who will get custody of the children?
The court prefers for parents to create their own plan for custody. If both parents cannot agree on a plan, the court will try to determine what is in the best interest of the child. This determination is not based on who is the “better parent,” but rather on which parent is best able to care for the child, encourage continuing contact and visitation with the other parent, and other factors, such as a history of abuse or addiction. There is no set custody plan that the court implements – neither parent is given priority for custody (for example, mothers do not automatically get more time than fathers). Rather, the court encourages an equal timeshare between both parents, if possible.
Grandparents also have rights to see their grandchildren that can be enforced under certain situations. We can help you understand your rights if your ability to see your grandchildren has been terminated.
How to Prepare for Your First Meeting
We will need different information for different cases. Below is a simple outline for what you should bring to make the first meeting as productive as possible.
- Make a list of specific questions you want answered or issues that are most troubling to you.
- The current custody and child support arrangement, if any, or an idea of how you would like the children to spend time with each parent.
- Any documents that have been filed with the court, particularly the most recent custody orders. However, if the case has been going on for a while, we don’t need the last few years of documents, only the most recent documents or any pending actions.
- Any reports that have been done by or for Family Court Services, private therapists, IEPs and supporting documents, custody evaluation, etc.