Break-ups and divorces are hard enough on the two people that are going through it, but when children are involved, they tend to get very complicated and messy. If a couple share a child, the terms of the custody of the child will be the most important decision they will face. It is important to remember that children are innocent, and no matter how fractured the marital relationship becomes, the couple will have to work together to develop a custody agreement. While it is not required, it is wise to consult an attorney to help draft this custody agreement and have it filed with the Court. If the couple can’t agree, the Court will determine custody based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Emergency Orders

In some circumstances, it is necessary that the Court grant an Emergency Custody Order if the Court believes that the child’s safety is an issue. The most common reasons for this is when one of the spouses has an alcohol, substance abuse, or anger issue. One can petition the Court to grant an Emergency Custody Order if evidence can be provided to show that child is subject to immediate physical or emotional harm. This order is only temporary, and the opposing spouse will have the opportunity to defend himself in Court. There, a Judge will decide whether or not the Emergency Order should remain in place until final custody can be determined.

Custody Type

Before filing for custody, one must determine what type of custody is sought. If seeking sole custody, one is asking the Court to have the child placed in his physical care at all times and the spouse would not have visitation rights. Joint custody is typically when a couple equally share physical custody and divide time with the child equally. It is also possible to seek joint custody where both parents have legal custody of the child, but the child mostly lives with one parent.  The other parent typically has visitation rights where the child stays with them during weekends, holidays, or whatever agreement can be arranged between the two parents.  Although it should not be a consideration when determining child custody, the type of custody arrangement will affect whether or not the other spouse pays child support and how much. At the end of the day, if the two parents of the child cannot agree, the Court will determine custody by solely considering what is in the best interests of the child.

Mistakes to Avoid

Finally, if one has reached the point in his relationship where a divorce or separation is necessary, there are a few pitfalls he will need to avoid that can have negative consequences in pursuit of child custody. Number one, it is important to remember that children are innocent and are not pawns. Judges are quick to recognize if someone is using his child to hurt his ex and they are less likely to issue a favorable ruling against an offending party. Number two, one should not use child custody as a means to get more child support if it is not in the best interests of the child. Number three, be careful on social media. Nearly without fail, the tirade filled with curse words that you posted in a moment of anger will be brought up again and usually at the custody hearing. Also, those pictures of you holding an alcoholic drink and partying are likely coming up too. It’s best to avoid social media all together during a divorce and custody dispute. Finally, be willing to compromise if it is in the child’s best interests.  Remember, no one wins in child custody. It’s not a contest and the health and happiness of the child should be the only consideration. It is important that feelings of animosity toward an ex not get in the way of the child’s happiness.

If you find yourself involved in a custody dispute, you should seek professional advice from an attorney that has yours and your child’s best interests in mind. At Ludlum Law Firm, our attorneys have the skill and expertise to guide you through this trying time and our main objective is our client’s happiness and well-being. We pride ourselves in using our knowledge and experience to obtain our client’s goals and we would love to put our skills to work for you.