Understanding how to get child custody can sometimes be difficult. There may be several factors to consider, such as the distance between the parents and children, the history of relations between the parties, and financial considerations.
The first step is to determine whether or not it’s possible to work with the other parent to come up with a solution. Cooperation can often save time and resources. It may be necessary to take legal action if this isn’t possible.
Here are some tips on how to get custody of a child in general:
- File a lawsuit with the court: In some cases, it may actually be necessary to file a lawsuit for a custody order. This can happen when the other party violates a previous child custody order or when abuse is involved. Following the formal court process provides several benefits, including the enforceability of documents, court protection, and professional intervention.
- Initiate or Seek Family Mediation: Family mediation can help the parties to reach an agreement on important issues like custody or support. However, the parties must be able to cooperate.
- Parenting Agreement: If possible, you may be able to create an out-of-court parenting agreement with the other party. Written agreements are usually enforceable and can be submitted to the court for review and approval.
- Understand Legal vs. Physical Custody: Legal and physical custody are not the same. A person can have physical custody of a child, but not legal custody, in which case they would not be able to make certain decisions for the child.
- “Child’s Best Interests” Standard: Courts will only approve a custody arrangement if it serves the “child’s best interests.” Keep this in mind during the process.
Additionally, not all states have the same child custody laws. As a result, you shouldn’t rely on word of mouth or hearsay about the custody process; do some light research yourself or consult a lawyer for guidance.
What Should You Avoid When Trying to Get Custody of Your Child?
When trying to gain custody of a child, there are several things to avoid. These include:
- You shouldn’t harass, intimidate, or threaten the other party
- Children should not be used as leverage to gain advantage over the other party
- You shouldn’t communicate with the other party if they have a lawyer and you don’t; try to communicate with your respective lawyers
- Attend all legal proceedings, court hearings, or meetings regarding custody
- It is important to maintain a positive attitude, a healthy lifestyle, and economic stability, especially if you are going through hard times
Finally, if you are subject to various court limitations, you should avoid crossing any boundaries. If you only have limited visitation during the week and are seeking full custody, you shouldn’t “jump the gun,” even if the other parent approves.
If you wish to adjust your schedule, you should first have any existing custody orders modified – this will help you avoid any legal troubles.
What Are the Factors to Consider When Determining Child Custody?
Family courts will consider a wide range of factors that might affect a child’s well-being when determining child custody. These factors will be weighed against the child’s best interest standard to ensure that the custody decisions do not harm the child or children in any way.
Some common child custody factors used by courts in a divorce or legal separation context may include:
- The parent-child relationship and the child’s interactions with each parent;
- Whether one parent has been the primary caregiver;
- Child’s background and how they adjust to their home, school, and neighborhood;
- Mental and physical health of the child, as well as the parents;
- Whether the child has any specific health, medical, or psychological needs;
- Courts usually choose custody arrangements based on the wishes of the parents (if both parents agree on a custody arrangement, it will usually be chosen);
- When the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the courts will give strong weight to the child’s preferences;
- The overall preferences of the child, especially if they are over a certain age (this age can vary by state).
If, for example, the child has special medical needs, the court will consider this in determining custody.
Are Courts More Likely to Award Child Custody to the Mother?
Historically, courts assigned custody or majority custody rights to the mother automatically. Mothers were assumed to be better suited to care for children. This was often based on societal notions and stereotypes from previous decades.
However, courts in every jurisdiction have largely rejected these archaic notions. Custody rights will be examined on a case-by-case basis instead. This means that courts will look at each child custody case individually to determine the best arrangement, again based on the child’s best interests (not necessarily on preconceived notions about which gender can raise a child better).
How Can A Father Get Full Custody Of His Child?
Fathers’ custody rights can raise a variety of questions. Fathers may ask questions such as:
- Is it possible for a father to take a child away from the mother?
- How likely is it that a father will get full custody of his child?
- What is the process for a father to get full custody of his child?
Fathers can sometimes face difficult custody battles. Although most courts have dispensed with older notions that the mother is automatically the primary caregiver, many mothers and members of society still hold such views.
In the Absence of a Custody Order, Is it Possible to Take Your Child?
A common situation is where one parent takes the child away because there is no child custody order yet in place. This creates very confusing and complicated situations, which can sometimes result in a violation.
When there is no custody order, it is generally recommended that a parent consults with the courts first to learn more about their rights. Attempting to remove a child from their current situation is usually not recommended. If there is a safety or health concern, the parent should contact the proper authorities first, such as child protective services.
If there is no custody order in place, courts usually follow the following guidelines:
- Both parents usually have equal rights to custody if the parents are married and there is no custody order in place;
- If the parents are divorced, the divorce order should specify what the custody arrangement is. Consult the most recent divorce decree;
If the parents are unmarried and were never married, and no custody order is in place, some courts might grant custody fully to the mother (though this might vary by state and jurisdiction).
Is There Anything a Father Can Do if His Child Is Kept From Him by the Mother?
Mothers may sometimes try to keep their children away from their father. There are a number of valid reasons for doing so, including safety concerns or abuse. In some cases, it can happen for purely personal reasons, such as when a mother wants to punish the father by denying him custody.
Generally, the mother cannot keep the child away from the father if doing so violates the child’s rights. Unless there is a custody agreement or court order in place, the mother cannot keep the child from the father in a way that violates the agreement or order.
Instead, they should consult with the court to seek a custody modification. By doing this, new, enforceable terms will be created for the custody agreement.
Similarly, the mother cannot take the child from the father’s custody without their consent if it would violate a custody order or if it would violate their parental rights without a court order.
An exception here is in cases where the child is in immediate danger from the father. In such cases, the mother may wish to seek a child protection order that legally requires the father to stay away from the child.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Guidance on Getting Child Custody?
Filing for child custody generally requires the assistance of a child custody lawyer. It’s generally a good idea to have the agreement reviewed by a lawyer, even when it’s an out-of-court agreement. You can then rest assured that your interests are being met and that you are not violating any laws or court orders. If necessary, your attorney can also represent you in court.