Child custody is one of the most stressful—and most complex—parts of the divorce process. Of course, parents never want to hurt or disrupt their children’s lives during a divorce, but custody arrangements are an enormous, necessary change that children must endure when their parents separate. As a result, no matter how smoothly the divorce proceedings go, an adjustment period should be expected for any children.
Before you begin child custody proceedings, it is important to remember that the courts are only interested in what is best for your children. Child custody decisions are complex, and it is important that you choose your family law attorney wisely. To help, we have assembled some frequently asked questions so that you can better understand how to find the best child custody lawyer for you.
Q. Is a Child Custody Lawyer the Same as a Divorce Lawyer?
Not necessarily. Many family law attorneys have experience in both divorce and child custody, because the two often coincide. It is important to ask your divorce attorney how much experience they have in child custody or child support determination cases and their success rate. If they are inexperienced or if you cannot find favorable client reviews, you may want to consider another divorce attorney or hire a separate child custody lawyer.
Q. What Are the Possible Outcomes of My Child Custody Case?
Child custody can be configured in multiple different ways. These are the most common:
- Joint custody. This is when both parents share the physical care and legal decision making regarding their children on a relatively equal basis.
- Primary custody. One parent handles the majority of the children’s physical care, but the other parent sees them regularly. Some families opt to make arrangements for the child to see the other parent on the weekends, over the summer, or on alternating holidays. In some cases, the parents share legal decision-making responsibilities, and in others, the primary custodial parent also has primary legal control.
- Visitation. Visitation is similar to primary custody, but the non-custodial parent does not have legal custody. Visits may be less regular and are sometimes supervised as ordered by the court.
- Sole custody. Sole custody occurs when one parent is given all physical and legal custody over the children. The other parent does not have the legal right to make decisions about their children, nor see them without the custodial parent’s consent.
It is important to discuss these potential outcomes with your attorney and be clear about your desired custody arrangements. This knowledge will help you and your child custody attorney develop your case.
Q. Do I Have to Go to Court?
Though a judge does need to approve your child custody agreement, the arrangements can be made outside of court during the mediation process. Your attorney and your ex-spouse’s attorney can help you each make your concerns known before a third-party mediator and arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. Once you reach a decision, it will be brought to a judge for final approval.
If you are unable to arrive at a suitable agreement in mediation, you will need to litigate your child custody arrangement in court before the judge will make a final determination. Court may also become necessary in the future if you need to modify your custody agreement.
Q. What Should I Look for in a Child Custody Attorney?
Because the child custody process is emotional, it is imperative that you are able to trust your attorney. You must tell them a variety of details about yourself and your family, and it is important that you feel comfortable enough to be honest. Look for an attorney who is kind, charismatic, understanding, and patient.
Additionally, it is important to find an attorney who has experienced cases like yours in the past and secured a favorable outcome for their client. In short, a good track record is essential. Your attorney must be supportive of your desired outcome for the case and feel confident they can achieve it for you.
Q. How Much Does a Child Custody Attorney Cost?
Child custody attorney pricing can vary widely depending on their experience, the reputation of the firm, and the circumstances of your case. Keep in mind that complicated or highly contentious custody situations can take longer to settle, increasing court costs and other associated fees. For that reason, there is no established price to complete a child custody case.
It is important to discuss finances with your attorney before you begin working. Ask them about their pricing system and how they schedule payments to be sure you can pay them in accordance with their fees. Some attorneys offer income-based payment arrangements, though this is not a requirement.
Contact Love DuCote Law Firm
If you are seeking high-quality legal representation for your Houston, Katy, Sugar Land, Harris County, or Fort Bend County Texas child custody case, The Love DuCote Law Firm is here for you. With decades of combined experience, our family law lawyers have the resources and the dedication to guide you through the process smoothly. Contact us online to schedule a consultation today.