Whether you are facing a divorce or a custody issue, determining the rules of child custody is an important yet emotionally charged issue parents have to go through. It is beneficial to prepare for your consultation with your divorce attorney in advance to ensure you have all of the information that your child custody lawyer will need. Here are some of the more common questions you can expect from your child custody attorney.
Have You Established Paternity?
Commonly, paternity is established when the child is born if the parents are married, and during the divorce, are typically given equal custody of children unless circumstances of the case or the child’s best interest dictate otherwise.
However, parents who are unmarried face a different set of rules. In Florida, if parents are unmarried, the mother will receive primary custody of the child upon the child’s birth while the unmarried father will have to establish paternity or request for parenting time or child’s custody through the court. There are different ways which can be used to establish paternity like acknowledgment on the birth certificate or DNA testing.
Is There Already A Parenting Plan Or Existing Custody Order?
There are some specific rules in Florida related to changing child custody order. You should be aware of the changes in rules to assure you will manage the process legally. Changes to child custody orders and parenting plans may be considered by the courts under the following circumstances:
- If a child’s welfare and safety are at risk.
- Relocation of parents makes the current parenting plan impractical or impossible.
- One of the parents has willfully violated the parenting plan.
- Older child is requesting for modification
Can You And Your Ex-Spouse/Other Parent Co-Parent Efficiently?
This will dictate the flow of your case. Amicable or uncontested divorces usually result in similar child custody arrangements – both parents agree on child time sharing. However, a high conflict divorce may require mediation or litigation. In mediation, a neutral third party will help parents to negotiate and discuss the custody options. The goal is to complete a voluntary parenting plan on which both parents will agree.
Should mediation not provide the desirable resolution, then the case will proceed in front of a judge. In these cases, both parties will present their case and justification for their time sharing and custody requests. A judge then takes the testimony from both sides as well as what they believe is in the best interest of the children and formulates a parenting plan for the parents to adhere by.
However, mediation and traditional litigation are not always possible in the case of custody disputes if there is a history of domestic or spousal abuse.
To develop the legal strategy, your child custody attorney needs to understand your willingness to cooperate and work with the other parent of your child.
What Does “Best Interest Of Your Child” Mean?
During litigation, the court will decide which arrangement will be in the best interest of the child. They will access various factors which include:
- Any (age appropriate) wishes of a child.
- The mental and physical health of parents and children.
- Willingness and the adequate ability of parents to raise a child.
- The moral character of parents.
- The willingness of each parent to co-parent
- Each parent respecting the relationship of the child and the other parent.
- Developmental, emotional, and material needs of children.
- Home environment and stability of each parent.
- The connection of a child with his/her school, home, and community.
- Importance of other familial relations.
- Income and financial stability of both parents.
- Evidence related to any kind of abuse.
You’ll have to provide your child custody lawyer detailed information related to these factors to assure that he can present your case properly to the court.
What Documents Should I Bring To My Free Consultation With Me Child Custody Lawyer?
One of the most important things you should know about your pending child custody attorney consultation is the information and documents you will need to bring to the meeting with your lawyer. You should bring any documented evidence related to your case to your appointment. It will allow the lawyer to evaluate your claim and give you the best advice regarding your case. Some of the other things you should bring are:
- Birth certificate of your child or children.
- Evidence of good or poor communication between you and the other parent.
- Any parenting plan or custody order you already have.
- Evidence related to the ability of the other parent to raise the child
- Evidence showing the willingness of other parent to work with you on day to day issues.
- Information related to the welfare and safety of the child while with you and the other parent.
- Information related to your financial stability.
Should I Bring My Child To The Consultation?
In most of the cases, your child custody attorney will not meet with your child in the first appointment. In the first meeting, you will be discussing very important and sensitive information about the other parent and yourself. It is not good for your child to be involved in this type of discussion.
When you are working with your child custody lawyer the most important thing you need to consider is the information you are sharing. Be sure to explain everything clearly and to not hide any information from your custody lawyer because it could create serious repercussions for you. Your child custody attorney will be able to work on the case only when he has all the information that he needs.