Child Custody Cases: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Married parents have complete custody of their children together, but in cases of divorce or even severe illness, a custody hearing must be held to determine which parent is more fit to retain the majority of the custody. This decision is made by the family courts system, and parents should know the facts about child custody cases in order to be prepared. Here is some important information all parents need to know regarding child custody law.

What Makes the Court Decide Custody

Each state has its own separate laws regarding child custody, but the general consensus is that the court will have the final say in which parent is best equipped to care for the child's overall interests. Therefore, in order to be sure you gain custody of your child, you will need to show the court that you can and will act in the child's best interest. Some of the things a family court judge will look at include a parent's mental health, their current job and income, their physical health and well-being, and criminal record (if any). They will also take into consideration what the wishes of the child are, and if the child is old enough they may let them help determine which parent they'd prefer to live with.

How to File for Custody

In order to file for custody of your child, certain steps must be followed. While each state may have its own procedures that must be obeyed, here is a general outline to ensure you're taking the proper steps:

  • Go to the local family court and file custody paperwork. This paperwork might include a court order that requires you to provide documentation to justify the need for your request for filing. There is usually a filing fee associated with this paperwork.
  • Once the paperwork is submitted to the court, each parent will receive an official copy of the custody request, along with a hearing date.
  • At the hearing, the judge will review your paperwork and ask both parents questions pertaining to the case. Depending on the situation, the judge could make an immediate determination as to which parent should receive custody. If more information is required, they may reschedule the hearing for a later date until all of the necessary documentation or witnesses can be presented. 
  • While it is not required, you may need to enlist the help of a family lawyer who can assist you with presenting your case to the court. If the custody issue becomes a difficult process due to uncooperative parents, the hearing could last much longer. It is always best to be as prepared as possible if you plan to file for custody of your child so that you can legally keep them.

To speak with a child custody lawyer for more information, contact Andrew H P Norton or another professional in your area.