3 Questions to Ask Your Attorney For Custody Battle Prep
Divorce sucks. It just does. Even when it’s mutual and civil, it’s sad and painful – and if you have children, that makes it even harder. Having children means custody agreements and questions about visitations and child support, there’s no way around it.
And you want to make sure that you’re always putting the interests of your children first, no matter how bitter the rest of the divorce settlement may become. That’s why you need a really good family lawyer with experience in custody battles.
When you’re looking for the right attorney for custody battles that you’re afraid you may be facing, there are several revealing questions you can ask to help you find the right attorney for you. Every divorce is different and every family has their own unique situation and needs – so you want to make sure that your child custody lawyer helps you set up a future for you and your children that works for everyone.
No matter how old your kids are (as long as they are under the age of 18), you will need to discuss physical and legal custody with your ex and your child custody lawyer. Here are some questions you should be asking when preparing for a custody battle.
1. What About Sole Custody, Shared Custody, and Visitation?
In Arkansas, if you can come to an agreement with your partner that you are happy with, you can submit that custody schedule or “parenting plan” to the court and a judge will review it to make sure that it is in the child’s best interest before approving it. If you cannot come to an agreement, a custody battle ensues and you will need to get child custody lawyers involved.
In Arkansas, the law prefers to give parents joint custody when possible but custody decisions are made based on a number of factors that affect your child(ren)’s needs:
- Each parent’s stability – financially, in their career, having a permanent home, etc.
- Each parent’s physical and mental health
- The child’s physical and mental health
- The child’s relationships with siblings and extended family
The judge will take these things into consideration and may order you to share legal custody (decision-making power on your child’s behalf) and/or physical custody (which one of you the child lives with), or one of you may be granted sole legal and physical custody.
Visitation is agreed on when one parent has sole physical custody and they are “allowing” the other parent to visit. This is something you probably want to avoid as it can be changed and revoked much more easily than joint custody.
Again, Arkansas law prefers to give parents joint physical custody, but it is not a guarantee – which is why you need a very good child custody attorney.
2. What About Moving In or Out of State?
Discuss the particulars of your living situation with your attorney for custody battle. It’s best not to make any sudden moves because the court may perceive that as instability or lack of investment in your child’s well-being. Obviously, if you are getting divorced because you took a job in another state (or some similar scenario), this will be difficult, but try to avoid moving until the custody decision is made.
Likewise, don’t move in with a new romantic partner or adult roommates if you can avoid it. The court looks at your living situation when deciding custody and they’re usually not comfortable with giving custody to the parent who is living with strangers. Try to live with a family member if you are not able to afford your own place yet.
If you and your children need to live somewhere safe and hidden from the other parent, discuss your safety concerns with your attorney. They may decide that filing a restraining order and suing for full custody is the right choice. Don’t worry about making your ex mad or protecting them. You’re already doing the right thing by getting away – make sure you keep doing the right thing and speak out to keep your children safe.
3. Can I Request A Modification to My Custody Agreement?
Making future changes to your child custody and visitation agreement is known as a “modification.” Generally, a court won’t modify custody unless there has been a marital change or a certain period of time has elapsed. Still, modifications can be made as they are needed and some parents schedule modifications in their custody agreement to accommodate their child’s changing needs as they grow older.
Other parents may modify their agreement only as necessary – for instance, if one parent chooses to move out of state, or if one of you is going to be remarried and other children are involved.
To modify an existing custody arrangement, your lawyer will submit an appeal for modification and then you will attend a hearing. After you explain why you need the modification, the other parent will agree or be allowed to make a counteroffer.
If possible, make all the modifications you’d like to see at once, rather than one at a time, otherwise, you will have to repeat the process and attend hearings for each individual modification. And since most custody lawyers charge by the hour, you’re better off doing as much as possible at once.
If you have any questions about your attorney for custody battle in Arkansas, ask the Digby Law Firm! We’re happy to answer your questions and sit down with you in a free consultation about your case.