What is Child Custody Law? How to Find a Child Custody Lawyer

 Child Custody Law

What is Child Custody Law?

Child custody law refers to the laws that govern custody of children in family law situations. It is a subpart of the family law body, and it addresses both physical and legal custody of children. Children are classified generally as being all individuals under the age of the majority. However, in some cases, a child under 18 may be deemed an adult and exempt from child custody laws if the child has been emancipated or demonstrates independence sufficient to treat the child as an adult. It is distinct from criminal cases.

Governing Law

Child custody law is governed by state law. In all states, some form of the best interests of the child standard is used, and it may be codified or case law. This is a factor based test that is designed to ensure that the child’s interests are protected and represented as the child is the one with the most to lose. None of the factors are dispositive, although some of them can be quite persuasive such as whether either of the parents have been abusive or convicted of child molestation or abuse. Child custody cases are determined as they arise, and there is no one preference in any state for a particular form of custody. The courts are to start without presumption in favor of either parent or guardian.

Reasons for Hiring an Attorney

A child custody lawyer should be hired in situations in which the child’s living and legal arrangements are being considered and decided. This most often occurs in divorces or in modifications of a child support arrangement. These are classified as DR, JP, and JC cases, though a few jurisdictions classify them as RS as well. In some cases, the matter will not go before a judge. Instead, it will be decided between the lawyers representing both sides of the disagreement. The best interests of the child must still be considered. The court will then intervene if an agreement cannot be reached or if extenuating circumstances arise.

What to Look for in a Child Custody Lawyer

Your first step is to make sure that it is clear for whom you are hiring the lawyer or law firm. A child custody lawyer will either be representing you or the child. This distinction is crucial, though most people presume that the lawyer can do both. This is not the case. While it may be possible that the best interests of the child may be satisfied by remaining with you, the attorney has no way of knowing this at the time that you hire him. If representing the child in child custody law, the attorney will be doing what is best for the child, even if you disagree. If representing you, then your wishes and goals are the primary focus.

In either case, it is good to look for a lawyer from a solo practice or law firm who is good with children. It’s not uncommon for the attorney to need to speak with the child in private, away from the parents to ascertain what the child really wants. In a case where he is representing the child’s interests, this is essential to getting a clear picture of the child’s desires and needs. In cases where he is representing you, it is essential to understanding what the court will likely hear when determining where the child should be placed. Skill with children as well as practice in family law are ideal. However, child custody law is not so complex that a new lawyer cannot handle your case competently. In some cases, you may even get a better deal without compromising your results, so long as the lawyer is licensed to practice in your state.

Child Custody Law Articles

Who Gets the Child? Child Custody Laws in General: Custody is about more than just where the child lives. While that is certainly included, child custody has two separate components. From there, there are different options for the combination of these components. The two components are legal custody and physical custody...

Child Custody Blogs

  • How Do Judges Decide Which Parent Gets Custody of a Child?

    When parents cannot agree on how they are going to raise their children after separation, judges or arbitrators have to decide which parent should have custody. That is unfortunate because judges usually have a very limited amount of time to spend wi...

  • Custody Arrangements Both Parents Can Agree On

    Divorce is always a life altering decision for the people involved. The feelings of hurt and anger that former husbands and wives have during the divorce proceedings often cloud their judgments, making it difficult to separate good decisions from bad...

  • Who Gets the Child? Child Custody Laws in General

    Within the field of law, there are many different specializations, each with its own set of challenges. Family law is one of the most emotionally challenging areas of law. Child custody, in particular, can produce emotionally explosive situations. Wh...

  • The Best Interests of the Child

    In family law, matters regarding the children are generally settled using the best interests of the child test. The best interests of the child is a factor based test that developed in response to the parens patriae doctrine. The purpose of this stan...