One of the first decisions parents who are asking the court for child custody must make is whether to employ a lawyer or do it alone. While representing yourself may appear to be a cost-effective alternative, it can also be a risky choice, particularly if your case is complex.
People who represent themselves are responsible for comprehending the rules governing child custody in their state. In addition, they also have to keep track of deadlines, paperwork, and important data. The learning curve can be severe, and getting your head around it can take a long time.
Here are the 8 hints or signs that may trigger you to think that you need a child custody lawyer. Trust me; you would not want to enter the courtroom without an experienced child custody lawyer.
1. Your Ex-Partner Has a Lawyer
If you know your ex has retained the services of a child custody attorney, it may be time for you to do so as well. Hiring an attorney does not automatically imply that things will become contentious. It’s reasonable if the other parent’s ability to hire a lawyer makes you nervous.
A child custody attorney has specialized training and experience in family law. Your legal research and preparation will lack compared to a lawyer’s legal understanding, strategic maneuvering, and experience with the court system. If your ex has hired a lawyer, this gives them a major advantage over you.
Having your own lawyer is a good approach to level the playing field and increase the chances that your case will end with a favorable decision.
If you can’t afford a lawyer, check for free legal help in your area. Legal aid groups provide low-income people with resources and, in certain cases, free legal assistance. Furthermore, most lawyers provide a free consultation, so calling a few to discuss your case briefly is never a bad idea.
2. The Situation in Your Case Has Significantly Changed
Sometimes you start with a really straightforward situation that grows progressively complex as time goes on. If the facts of your case have changed, it may be appropriate to seek legal advice.
Some factors that could complicate your case include:
- A parent may have remarried or been living with a new spouse.
- A once-cooperative parent has now become confrontational.
- A parent is not following the terms of a present custody arrangement.
- A parent is thinking of relocating.
- There is evidence of interpersonal violence, child abuse, or neglect.
3. You Barely Know Anything about Law
It takes a lot of research and planning to manage a child custody case on your own. The laws that pertain to their case must be properly understood by professional lawyers. They are also responsible for keeping track of documentation, deadlines, and court dates on their own.
Lawyers are very familiar with the intricacies of the legal system. Every day, they write out petitions, counsel with clients, resolve disputes, and attend hearings. A lawyer serves as your advocate as well as a legal expert.
You may relax a little more knowing that someone is handling your case and working out for your best interests when you hire a lawyer. Click here to check out the law firm that handled the separation case of my friend. One could elude that there are great law firms in small cities too!
4. Your partner’s Perspective has changed
It’s time to consult a lawyer if your ex has changed their mind about sharing custody. Or if you believe they will try to persuade the court that you are unfit to keep the kids overnight. While each state has its own set of laws, all courts apply the best interests of the child standard to decide custody judgment.
In instances like these, it’s often better to hire an experienced, neutral lawyer because the stakes are so high.
5. Your Ex-Partner Doesn’t Let You See the Child
If your ex is interfering in your relationship with your children, you should consider hiring a lawyer to represent you. Obstructing contact with the children, limiting parenting time, or canceling at the very last minute are all actions that should be addressed with the help of a lawyer.
- Keep meticulous records of any of these actions and share them with your attorney.
- Keep track of any missed parenting time and the circumstances behind it.
- Keep track of any communications with the other parent, including phone conversations, emails, text messages, and other forms of communication.
These documents will be used in court as evidence.
6. You Have a History of Alcohol and Drugs Usage
If you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, be aware that it may be brought up in court. Even if you only drink once in a while or smoke marijuana recreationally in a region where it is allowed, your ex might still cast you in a negative light.
Fortunately, claims like these must be proven in court, which means evidence of substance use should be presented. If any of these situations sound possible to you, you might wish to hire a lawyer. They will know how to effectively defend your acts or demonstrate to the court what steps you’ve taken to improve your circumstances.
7. You Think Your Kids Are in Danger
Leaving a violent relationship might provide a number of challenges. They may be accused of fabricating false claims or alienating their children from the other parent, in addition to failing to protect their children if they do not depart soon enough.
It’s understandable to be concerned about the consequences. Abusers frequently continue their abuse even after they have been charged with a crime. Litigation abuse is a type of domestic violence that uses the judicial system as a weapon against survivors.
You should call 911 if you fear your children are in urgent danger. You might also consider obtaining a restraining order.
8. Your Case Involves Multiple Jurisdictions
Different jurisdictions might make a custody case more complicated because it’s difficult to tell which state or country’s rules apply to your situation. If you and your ex-partner live in distant states or even countries, you should seek legal advice to defend you and guide you through unexpected obstacles.