Child custody battles for fathers and mothers are often the most challenging part of a divorce when children are involved. However, not all custody battles have to wind up in court or necessitate a judge deciding the parenting plan for the parents. Regardless of whether parents are attempting to work out their custody issues or disagreements out-of-court or in front of a judge in court, it is important for parents to understand their custody rights and learn how to prepare their case.
Mothers and fathers should spend time becoming informed and educated about the court process for custody determinations and modifications. Most all states use some form of the “best interest of the child” standard in custody determinations or modifications. It is important for parents to understand what this means to court officials and how to prepare for it. Also, parents should research alternative dispute resolution options that may be available to them which can have the effect of avoiding a long-drawn out child custody battle. Educated parents who are focused on the best interest of their children and have clear goals and realistic expectations are more likely to avoid custody battles in court and avoid disputes out of court.
Moms and dads can face different legal challenges in the family court. For example, unmarried fathers generally have to establish paternity to obtain custody and visitation rights while mothers typically do not. Paternity is also an important step for unwed mothers seeking to establish child support payments. It’s important for moms and dads to understand the different legal challenges, their rights and how to best prepare their case.
While attorneys can provide “legal advice” and explain how the law applies to a specific situation, they often fall short in areas such as providing their clients with practical case enhancing tips and educating them about the family court process, exploring out-of-court settlement options and the pros and cons of each option, preparing relevant questions for the attorney and how to effectively use the attorney to reduce legal costs, how to create effective parenting plans, teaching parenting techniques, explaining how to document and organize case facts.
Whether a divorce child custody battle ends up in court or whether the dispute is being addressed out of court, parents need to be properly informed and educated about relevant child custody factors, how to document their case, how to build a parenting plan, and what steps they should be taking to present the best case possible.
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