Understanding Child Custody Why You Need An Attorney On Your Side

Divorce is a subject that many find difficult to discuss — but nonetheless it’s a reality for many in this day and age. It’s estimated that somewhere between 40 and 50% of American couples get divorced, with Louisiana having the highest divorce rate in the country. As of 2016, about 20.8 out of 1000 married people divorced in Louisiana, with Westwego having the highest divorced population in the state at 19.3%. At the end of the day, divorce is something that many people will deal with at some point in their lives, and they shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

However, divorce becomes much more difficult when children are involved. The last thing that anyone wants to get into when divorcing is the subject of custody battles. However, child custody is easily the most contentious part of any divorce that involves children, even when the parents otherwise find their divorce simple. It’s one thing to divide assets; it’s another thing to divide child custody. With that being said, it’s a good idea to work with a divorce attorney that is well-versed in the laws regarding child custody, or simply a child custody lawyer outright.

Understanding Child Custody Outright

When divorcing, it’s best for parents to come to a child custody agreement as soon as possible. They must understand, of course, what they’re agreeing to. Sole physical custody means that one parent will have supervision of the children, and the children will reside with them, whereas sole legal custody means that one parent will have the rights and responsibilities to make all legal decisions regarding the children. This is usually in regards to the children’s health, education, and general welfare. In the case of sole physical custody, the courts must approve of the other parent’s visitation arrangements, while when one parent has sole legal custody the other parent retains visitation. Joint physical and legal custody correspond to sole physical and legal custody; parents that share joint physical custody both see the children for extended periods of time, and parents that have joint legal custody make all legal decisions for the children together. Ideally, the courts would prefer that parents choose joint legal custody. However, this can be difficult for divorcing couples to maintain, especially in the face of personal strife.

The Advantages In Family Court

Custody laws can vary from state to state, and there are different advantages and disadvantages to separate custody agreements. Ideally, parents can work together to be flexible regarding custody. However, it’s important to remember who will be at the advantage in child custody battles. Traditional wisdom says that most family courts favor the mother, and there is some truth to this — but each case is judged differently. For example, if a mother has been shown to be lacking as a parent, she may lose the advantage that she would otherwise likely be predisposed to having. Furthermore, either parent may solidify their claim to custody by showing records of their relationships with their children, both personal and financial. The courts will also take what the children want into account, especially in the cases of older children, like teenagers. In some cases, the judge may simply command that they be placed where they wish.

Choosing A Lawyer For Your Custody Agreement

While all divorce attorneys are likely familiar with child custody laws, some specialize in child custody agreements. Keep in mind that, though it may be difficult to avoid a custody battle, it is in the best interest of the children and the parents to do so. Working with a lawyer that will fight for your rights, but also what is in the best interests of your children, is important. Try to avoid a battle and mediate a legal custody agreement before you go to court. However, if you do need to go to court to handle your custody agreement, make sure that you don’t do so alone. A lawyer will greatly increase your chances of getting the agreement you want.