Child Custody Presumption in Favor of the Status Quo

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What is the “Status Quo” in relation to Child Custody?

The “status quo” is the type of parental arrangement that existed before formal child custody hearings are sought.  For example, the parents may have already separated before a divorce hearing or before child custody determinations.  They may even have instituted their own visitation schedules without first obtaining a court-ordered visitation schedule. 

This means that the child or children may have already become accustomed to the status quo arrangement prior to a child custody hearing. 

What does “Presumption in Favor of the Status Quo” mean in a child custody hearing?

During child custody hearings, judges usually issue their rulings with a “presumption in favor of the status quo”.  The judge will base the child custody order according to the status quo, which is the arrangement that existed before the proceedings. 

All child custody determinations must be made in according to the best interests of the child.  In most cases, it is usually in the best interests of the child not to disturb existing custody arrangements unless it is absolutely necessary. 

Therefore, judges almost always prefer to preserve the status quo in any child custody hearing.  The reason is that the child may have already gotten used to the existing parental arrangement. 

When can the Status Quo be changed or altered?

Of course, the reason why child custody hearings are filed is usually because the present custody arrangement may not suitable for the child.  A judge may choose to change, alter, or disregard the status quo when:

Therefore, a judge will consider the entire situation surrounding the child when determining custody.  This may result in the parents having to alter an existing, informal custodial arrangement so that the child’s needs are better served. 

Do I need a Lawyer for Child Custody issues?

If you are involved with child custody determinations, it is often helpful to consult with a lawyer.  A child custody attorney can help evaluate your current parental arrangement in light of your child’s needs.  Also, child custody laws may vary widely according to state, and your attorney can explain your state’s laws to you. 

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Last Modified: 01-13-2014 05:48 PM PST

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