A custody dispute may occur when the parents or caretakers of a child cannot agree on the child custody arrangements of a child or children.   This typically occurs in the context of a divorce, though it may happen in other situations as well.  Custody disputes can often present many challenges to the parties involved, as it requires a consideration of the entire lifestyle and needs of the children and the parents.

Most child custody disputes require intervention by the family law court system.  In some cases, the parties might be able to formulate a proposed child custody arrangement, which they can present to the judge for approval.  If they can’t cooperate, judicial intervention will continue until a suitable child custody arrangement is finalized into a custody order.

How are Decisions Made During a Custody Dispute?

In any court proceeding that involves child custody, visitation, or child support, all decisions must be made according to the “child’s best interest standard”.  This means that the needs, background, and abilities of the child are given priority over any preferences of the parties in dispute.  This is to ensure the child’s welfare as they grow up and to preserve an atmosphere of safety and protection for the child.

On the other hand, the child’s wishes in a custody dispute must be considered very carefully by the court, as the child must be of sufficient mental capacity and maturity to contribute to the decision-making process.

What are Some Legal Issues During a Custody Dispute?

Child custody laws may vary by state, and each child custody dispute will be different.  Thus, child custody determinations are generally made on a case-by-case basis, with the judge considering factors such as:

  • The age and mental, emotional, and physical condition of the child
  • The nature of each parent or adult’s relationship to the child
  • Whether the child has any special needs
  • The age and mental, emotional, and physical condition of the parents
  • Financial stability of the parents
  • Whether there have been any incidences of abuse or neglect in the past
  • Various child custody rules and laws that might apply

Also, other legal issues can overlap with child custody cases.  These can include legal issues such as visitation rights, grandparent or foster parent rights, and child support matters.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Child Custody Dispute?

Child custody disputes can sometime get very complicated, and may require the assistance of a lawyer.  You may wish to hire a qualified child custody lawyer in your area if you need help resolving a child custody dispute.  Your attorney will be able to advise you regarding the laws of your state, and can represent you if you need to attend any family law court sessions.