If you have minor children, divorce can mean very major and often difficult changes for them. The children must make as much of an adjustment, if not more of an adjustment, to the new status quo than you do, and may need some help doing so. It is therefore important to consider issues of child custody carefully and with the children’s needs in mind.
Divorces or separations can be relatively amicable, or in some cases extremely contentious. If possible, you should try to negotiate with your spouse and come to an agreement on child custody issues. With some give and take, you are more likely to come up with a solution that disrupts the children’s lives the least and works with both parents’ schedules.
Letting the Courts Decide
In the event that communication has broken down and no negotiations or agreements are possible, then you should prepare for a custody fight in court. Even if you think you might lose the case, it is never a good idea to kidnap your children or keep them away from their other parent to try and gain an advantage. This course of action will earn you criminal charges, and likely diminish your chances at even shared or joint custody. Courts take into consideration various factors in making custody decisions, but the paramount consideration is the best interest of the child.
When preparing for court, you might want to start documenting your child’s daily activities. Keeping a journal, videos or photographs may be a way to establish the stability of your home, and how adjusted the child is to their routine there. More importantly, it can be a way to show your interactions with your children, and what kind of relationship you have.
This kind of documentation can also be useful if you are in a temporary custody arrangement with your spouse, and believe the other parent is abusing the children. If this is the case, you should contact the police immediately, but also take photos, and keep a log of the incidents that you report to the police. You can ask your attorney to make an emergency motion to the court to grant you temporary sole physical custody of your children if you believe they are being abused, or if you think your spouse might try to kidnap the children.
Custody for Unmarried Fathers
Under State law, awarding custody to one parent over the other is not an automatic right. The court makes the decision after looking at certain factors and determining the best interest of the child. However, to even request custody, an unmarried man must prove that he is indeed the child’s father.
In cases of a married couple, there is a legal presumption that the husband is the child’s father. If the couple is not married, then there are two different ways in which the man can prove paternity. These are:
1. Signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity
2. Filing a petition to have the court determine paternity
The Acknowledgement of Paternity form can be found at the hospital when the baby is born and has to be signed by two witnesses. This form can then be filed along with the child’s birth certificate.
Contact a Child Custody Attorney
If you are having issues child custody issues or any other family law problems, contact an experienced geo area child custody attorney. Whether you are facing a first-time custody battle or have a modification or other issues that need to be addressed by a legal team.