Getting divorced is never a pleasant experience, what makes it even worse is the battle over child custody. There are several elements involved in divorce and this is why it’s imperative that you hire a competent divorce lawyer.
What Happens During the Separation (Pre-Divorce)?
Some states require a couple to separate six months to a year before they can file for divorce, others states do not have such a waiting requirement such as Nevada. In either case, when there are children involved the couple must decide the issues of: custody, support, and visitation rights.
No Fault Divorce: Many states have adopted what is called “no fault divorce.” This means neither party is required to prove infidelity, or fault in order to obtain a divorce. Even if it is a no fault state, fault issues can be used in Court for issues such as custody and visitation if relevant.
Temporary Motion: Divorce is an emotional situation, and many times the two parties cannot come to an agreement during the separation period. In this case there needs to be an expedient motion filed so the court can sort this out, especially when children are involved. The court will direct a temporary order concerning child custody, support and visitation schedules. The basis of the decision is in accordance with state laws and what’s best for the children.
Choosing The Right Lawyer
When searching for a divorce attorney you have your state bar associations referral service, local search banks, and friends/family. The best insight will come from friends or family that have had first hand experience with a divorce lawyer. There are lawyers that handle divorcees, foreclosures, wills and other legal matters – these lawyers are good in cases where the divorce is simple or uncontested. If there are children involved, you will need a divorce lawyer that specializes in child custody cases. Lawyers who fall in this category are classified as: “Family and Domestic Law Lawyers.”
The Interview Process: You should get referrals to at least two or three lawyers. You are hiring them, so they will be working for you. Start you questioning with “how does,” How does child custody work? How does child support work? Not only will you be interviewing for a lawyer, but you will get educated real fast about how the system works.
Child Custody – What to Expect
There are two issues in child custody cases: legal custody and physical custody.
Legal Custody: Most divorces end up in a 50/50 split when it comes to legal custody. This means decisions on such matters as: schooling, medical care and housing are shared by both parents. This is completely separate from the courts ruling on physical custody.
Child Support: Most states have a predefined table for child support. It’s based on the incomes and needs of the child ; this is irregardless of assets and alimony.
Finally, make sure you understand the cost structure of your lawyer. The last thing you need is to find out your retainer is empty in the middle of the case – this has sadly happened to a few people.