Having a child is an exciting time for parents, but it can also be highly stressful. Along with the joys of parenthood come many responsibilities and legal issues to which you should pay attention. For instance, your state might have laws that assign primary custody automatically based on age. If not, courts will determine primary custody using factors such as each parent’s ability to care for the child, the level of conflict between parents, extenuating circumstances (such as long-distance), and other relevant variables. The following are nine signs that you’ll need to hire a child custody lawyer:
Failure to comply with child custody laws
You haven’t kept up with your state’s laws regarding custody determination. If someone brings any allegation against you regarding your parenting abilities or your fitness as a caretaker, a court will probably not consider that allegation if you weren’t aware of your state’s laws. You’ll have to start from scratch with child custody proceedings.
You’re involved in a messy divorce
In cases of high conflict between divorcing parents, courts will assign primary custody based on which parent is most likely to ensure the safety and well-being of the child throughout the proceedings. If both parents are equally capable or one parent can prove that they are more capable than the other, disputes might be arbitrated by district attorneys before being brought to court.
The school system detects abuse or neglect at home
Fights between divorced parents often revolve around their children, so any sign that something is wrong could put you at risk of losing custody. If the school system (or any other authority) detects abuse or neglect at home, it will report these findings to child protective services, which can remove your children from their home pending an investigation.
You refuse to allow the other parent visitation rights
While most divorcing couples try to agree to resolve child custody issues, some can’t get along. Protecting your relationship with your kids is essential, but refusing to cooperate with visitation may be held against you in court. Unless extenuating circumstances warrant restricting visitation (such as domestic violence), courts will almost always give parents equal time with their children.
For instance, if you hire a Riverside child custody lawyer, they can advise you on how best to achieve visitation rights in your state. In this case, a judge can order supervised visits instead of unsupervised ones because the parent is considered unstable or dangerous. Supervised visits may be ordered if a judge decides that there is too much of a risk that you’ll use visitation with your child as an opportunity to harass or abuse the other parent.
You’re failing to provide suitable shelter and basic living standards for your child(ren)
After divorce or separation, custodial parents must still provide children with housing and food. If they fail to do so, courts may intervene and suspend custody rights while the non-custodial parent corrects this situation.
You have been charged with or convicted of a crime against your child(ren).
If you’ve been accused of a violent crime against your children, the judge will probably order a full investigation before assigning anyone custody. Even if charges are dropped due to lack of evidence, custody may be assigned based on the assumption that contact with you puts your kids at risk for physical and emotional harm.
If you’ve been through any of these situations, consulting an attorney should be high on your list of priorities. At stake is not only access to and time spent with your child; it’s also (in some cases) their very safety and well-being. Because these situations are taken so seriously by courts, it’s crucial to present your side of the story with sound evidence and expert testimony. That is something you can’t do effectively on your own.