Child Custody Papers
What Are Child Custody Papers?
The phrase "child custody papers" refers to the legal documents that authorize the child custody arrangement between the parents and child or children. These are court orders that are often issued in connection with a divorce proceeding, although they are also issued through separate custody proceedings as well. Child custody offers often contain information regarding:
- The parents or legal guardians involved
- Names of the child or children
- Descriptions of custody (i.e., whether separate custody, shared, joint, etc.)
- Visitation instructions (if applicable)
Also, child custody orders may often contain other instructions, such as those regarding child support or custody rights of third parties.
Are Child Custody Orders Necessary?
In some cases, parents may choose to work out an informal custody arrangement on their own, apart from the court’s intervention. However, it’s usually best to present a child custody arrangement to the court, so that the custody arrangement can be formalized in to a court order. Without a court order, it becomes difficult to enforce custody rights and visitation schedules.
Thus, a court order should always be secured whenever seeking to set up a child custody arrangement. That way, if there is a conflict or dispute, the parties have legal custody papers that they can refer to in the event of a violation.
Can a Child Custody Order be Modified?
It’s usually possible to modify an existing custody order. This can be done if there are any "significant changes" that might affect the child’s upbringing, or that might affect the custody arrangement. This can include:
- Relocation of a parent
- One of the parents has obtained new or different employment
- The child has developed special needs that must be addressed
- The current custody arrangement is no longer suitable for the child
- One of the parents or guardians has become unfit to raise the child
A modification must be requested by the court. The parties will be required to submit information in support of the modification. After this, the judge may issue a modified order in light of the new circumstances. All custody orders and modifications need to be made with the child's best interests in consideration.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Child Custody Papers?
Child custody issues can sometimes involve complex determinations of several factors that might affect the child. An experienced lawyer can provide assistance and representation during a child custody proceeding. Hiring a lawyer can help you be prepared for the hearings and will help ensure that your rights as a parent are being addressed.
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Last Modified: 01-08-2014 11:15 AM PST
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