Last Updated: November 28, 2022
When parents split, a child custody battle over children sometimes ensues and if this situation is not handled carefully, both parents end up losing. If the child custody battle becomes particularly ugly, the situation may be left to a court to resolve. In the end, a long, drawn-out child custody battle will likely hurt the kids, so knowing what is involved and whether it is necessary (instead of compromising) is important. Getting a free consultation regarding your case is what the expert lawyers here provide for you!
Legal Help for a Child Custody Battle
Parents who are unwilling to compromise in their attempts to win custody of kids may find themselves in front of a family court judge. For most parents, legal expertise proves essential in this unfamiliar situation. Each parent should obtain the representation of a child custody attorney to help develop and present a case to the judge. A well-prepared, comprehensive case increases the chance of a favorable outcome.
Lawyers Help Avoid Conflict
Some level of conflict is involved in every custody case heard by a family court judge. The more acrimonious the situation, the less leeway the judge has with a custody order. Lawyers build cases that illustrate why their clients will be the most suitable caregivers for the children. By providing a wealth of information and expert testimonies, lawyers give judges the information they need to make well-informed custody decisions.
Many times, parents are unable to even sit down and discuss what the parenting time situation should be because they can’t communicate with each other. There are many reasons for this, such as constant fighting, orders of protection, or unwillingness of one or both parents to put their feelings aside to discuss what’s best for the kids. When both parents are unable to communicate, a child custody battle almost be a guarantee. However, being able to have an attorney speak on your behalf and help negotiate for you can cool things down fast.
Child Custody Decision: Best Interests of the Child
Judges base their decisions on the best interests of the children. In doing so, they consider the ability of each parent to provide the children with shelter, food, clothing, healthcare, and other necessities. They review the ability of each parent to provide a stable home life, education, and community experience. In addition to considering the sex, age, and health of the child, they consider the health and lifestyle of the parents.
The “best interests of the child” standard is used in all 50-states, although the exact factors used to determine what is best for the kids varies a bit from state to state. Beyond the basic necessities listed above, courts often base their decision during a child custody battle on these main factors:
- Ability of parents to co-parent/communicate with each other for the kids
- Past involvement in child-rearing (bedtime, schoolwork, transportation to/from school, attending doctors’ appointments, present at school and sports/extracurricular activities, etc.)
- The distance between the parents’ residences
- Any prior agreements or plan the parents may have been following outside of court intervention
- The willingness of each parent to continue to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent (ie. – NOT talking bad about the other parent)
- Whether any physical or mental abuse has happened by either parent towards the child or in the presence of the child against someone else
For the most part, (except the abuse of the child by a parent), none of these are by themselves the sole deciding factor for how a judge will decide a child custody battle. The number one thing that a parent can do to increase their success of winning a child custody battle is to make sure they fit as many of these factors into their life. Get out there and offer to take the kids while your ex is at work. Offer (and do) some pickups and drop-offs at school. Get to the practices and coach a team. Be involved! And then hire a child custody lawyer to showcase all of these things in the best possible light.
Child Custody Battle 101
When parents begin a child custody battle, they will likely hurt both themselves and their children. A judge considers the ability of each parent to support the relationship of the children with the other parent. Parents who are constantly fighting do not illustrate supportive behavior. In addition, their harsh words and actions can emotionally scar their children. Attorneys attempt to keep client emotions under control so the damage is limited.
Judges will find out who was fighting just to fight and who actually cares about the kids. It’s important to remember that the judge is a human being too, and they will feel sympathy for a parent who looks to be under attack from a vindictive parent that uses the children as a weapon to attack the other parent. A child custody lawyer will always work to avoid this because it is bad for the kids and damaging to the case.
While a child custody battle can be scary, if a parent works to prove that he/she is the reasonable parent, a good result can take place. Through their speech and actions, parents play big roles in custody decisions. They should behave as role models and let their lawyers handle the contentious issues. Getting a free custody evaluation is the first step to fighting for your family!