Child custody can be a sticky issue even if the parties involved are trying to handle things reasonably. It's important to understand several basic ideas before you move ahead with a child custody case, so take a look at them here.
Do You Require Child Custody Lawyer Services?
The word "require" might be a little strong, but it's extremely unwise to handle a child custody case without putting everything in writing. Ultimately, that leads to hiring a child custody lawyer because you don't want to create legally-binding documents that might have ambiguities and holes in their logic.
If you end up going to court, the documents will get written for you, and it's best to have an attorney present to argue through the details. Even if the parties can handle it out of court, it's still prudent to have counsel just to make sure the details don't get messed up.
Supporting the Best Interests of the Child
This is the legal standard that governs everything in custody law. Not only does the judge have to abide by it, but so do all parties to the case. You do not want to go to court and have a judge question whether you're looking out for the child's best interest because that is a formula for losing.
What does this idea mean, though? It's left intentionally open-ended because everyone needs flexibility. Generally, the best interests of the child means things that will help them become healthy adult members of the community. For example, if one parent is much better-positioned to take care of a child with serious medical issues, the court has to take that into account.
The best interests standard extends to things like a kid's education, spiritual life, and upbringing within their family's culture. As you might imagine, there are scenarios where that can get tricky if two parents strongly disagree about what those things mean.
Finally, a major goal of the court is to maintain the involvement of both biological parents if at all possible. The assumption is that, at least until proven otherwise, both parents can contribute to a child's healthy upbringing.
If you're worried that your ex might be abusive, for example, the court will expect extensive proof before it will consider curbing or eliminating parental rights. Also, the court will work hard to address parental issues that are potentially fixable, such as encouraging financial or drug counseling.
For more information, contact a child custody lawyer in your area.