Do you plan on getting separated from your partner and want to keep your kid at all costs? Here are 10 serious signs you need a child custody lawyer.

Child custody matters can get messy. You both have a vested interest in raising your child, and may also still be healing from the loss of the romantic relationship.

However, you need to handle the legal aspect of this situation by hiring a child custody lawyer that can protect your interests.

It’s vital that you do what is in your child’s best interests, and that means getting your fair shake as a parent. Consider the points below so you know when hiring a lawyer is necessary.

1. Hire a Child Custody Lawyer If You Live in Different Places

Whether you split due to a divorce or just the end of a long-term relationship, you’ll need to put a custody arrangement in writing. This becomes more difficult when you live in different places.

Simply put, you’ll absolutely need to bring in a child custody lawyer if you’re living in different areas. When you’re living in two different cities or regions, the judge will need to consider the distance and where it makes the most sense for the child to live.  In Florida, the traditional concept of child custody is dead and they instead practice “shared parental responsibilities”.

If you’re in two different states, you will potentially be dealing with two entirely different family court systems. This means you’ll need to learn where and how to file, and what sorts of circumstances the situation is subject to.

Having a lawyer lets you make sense of these issues for you.

2. If the Other Parent Has Hired a Lawyer

It’s definitely important to hire an attorney if the other parent has already retained an attorney. If that’s the case, you’re already behind the legal 8-ball and will need to catch up. and ensure legal requirements are not missed.

When you hire an attorney, you can be at the cause and not the effect of the situation. Without a lawyer, you’ll likely be at the whim of whatever filing the other parent and their attorney submit.

3. Your Ex Is Trying to Keep the Kids from You

Sometimes, the other parent is flat-out being aggressive in trying to deny you your rights to your kids.  This is of course not the mandate behind share parenting.

As long as you’re not abusive or unfit, you have every right to get a child custody arrangement that lets you see your child, and share in the time caring for your child and the responsibility.

If your ex is playing games, creating roadblocks, or breaking the law to keep you from your child, you’ll definitely want to get in touch with an attorney immediately. Your lawyer can intervene and expedite the process of getting in front of a judge and putting a halt to these sorts of actions.

Having a lawyer encourage and facilitate order also puts a third-party between you and the situation, which can help deescalate your involvement. That’s important since these situations are emotionally charged and can open up an entirely different can of worms. Sometimes your strong and emotional attachment can cause definite difficulty for yourself.

4. You Believe Your Child Is in Danger or Being Mistreated

When you believe that your child is in danger, you’ll need to report mistreatment or get in touch with Child Protective Services.

Having a lawyer get involved will not just protect your rights as a parent, but it’ll also get your child out of a potentially abusive or dangerous situation. Your attorney also has enough of a handle on the law to put together evidence that can be useful in pursuing criminal charges as well.

5. A Court Order Has Been Issued

When a judge issues a court order, you’ll definitely need to get the help of an attorney.

A court order dictates concrete custody for shared parenting and visitation schedule. Each state has its own laws in this regard, so you need to figure out how you must respond based on where you live.

In many situations, you’ll be hiring a lawyer so that you can address the order that was filed, to either enforce or modify the order. Having an attorney lets you explain your case in detail, and assert your parental rights.

It’s important to assert your position at a final hearing so your shared parenting is protected.

6. You’ve Been Forced to Take Anger Management or Other Classes

Family court orders often come with a series of stipulations. One situation that people run into is having to take anger management classes, share parenting or other counseling.

There’s nothing at all wrong with anger management, but if you feel like you’ve been wrongfully ordered by the court, it can put your custody rights at risk.

This sometimes happens when a parent tries to sway the judge against the other and engage in sharing. They may fabricate or exaggerate certain stories to paint the other as someone unable to control their anger so that the judge limits access to the child.

Since these types of tactics are nefarious and damaging, you’ll absolutely want the help of a child custody attorney, who can ensure the share parenting laws are being followed.

7. There Have Been Some Significant Complications to the Case

Don’t wait until you’re in over your head to call a lawyer. There are situations where your case starts in a straightforward manner but then becomes more complicated.

For instance, you may begin filing for joint custody or share parental responsibilities, but then your ex begins to get evasive or less cooperative. Or maybe they started a relationship with someone that you don’t feel comfortable having around your kids, and you gro concerned for their safety.

Since these matters get so complicated, you’ll definitely need the help of a lawyer that can jump to your defense.

8. The Case Has Several Complex Matters

As time goes on, the case can become more complex due to life changes. You or your former spouse could have remarried or even had another child by the time family court hearings conclude.

You may have also significantly increased or decreased your income, moved to another area, or have differences of opinion on where to send your child to school. In fact, if the two of you are having significant differences of opinion on how to raise the children, these matters will need to be hashed out in court as well.

Your attorney can help you in court, in addition to opening channels to negotiate an agreement with the other parent and their attorney. Many child custody lawyers are also skilled mediators, which can come in handy with these cases, and ensuring the shared parenting is working for your unique family.

9. Your Child Custody Case Is Costly

If your child custody case is costing you a bit of money, it’s best to bring an attorney on board to make sure your money is being spent productively, which in Florida is known as share parental responsibility, sole parental responsibility or ultimate decision making responsibility.

When your case involves any sort of disputes over getting sole custody, partial custody, or joint custody, you’ll need an attorney that can sort out the details. A child custody case that continuously goes back and forth with multiple hearings might cost you thousands and thousands of dollars, so make sure that you are spending this money in a way that works out for you.

With access to an attorney, you’ll optimize this spending, rather than spending money on trial and error while DIYing your case.

10. You Received a Summons for a Hearing

Once you’re hit with a summons, you’ll need to craft a proper response. By working with an attorney, you’ll be able to respond to the summons in a way that helps your case, and ensures the court will hear your side of the case.

When you fail to respond to the summons in a timely manner, or not at all, your ex has the right to move forward in the case and receive a court judgment without your participation.

Having an attorney that you can strategize with lets you know when to file for continuances to buy more time, how to prepare for any hearing that you have to fulfill, and argue your case to the fullest.

Know What to Look for in an Attorney

Finally, be sure that you choose wisely when looking for a child custody lawyer, no matter where your case may be.

Find someone that fits your sensibilities, and who responds promptly whenever you have a question. Be sure that you have access to an attorney that can prioritize your case, and who you trust to handle it from start to finish.

You’re always better off finding a great attorney by getting references and taking your time to make the wisest decision.

Hire a Child Custody Lawyer for Your Case

When you need the help of a child custody lawyer, it’s important that you do some research. These are the primary situations in which you should definitely call in a custody attorney.

At the Law Office of Erin Morse, you’ll get attentive care for any child custody situation. We can help whether you’re creating a court order, trying to negotiate custody arrangements, or need help modifying a judge’s decision.

We’d be happy to offer you a consultation for your case.

If you need help with a child custody case, contact us for more information.

Are you about to go through a divorce and want to get everything you’re entitled to? Here’s why you should invest in a divorce attorney.

Have you and your spouse decided to end your marriage? Are you wondering what the next steps are and whether you need a lawyer? The short answer is: yes. Don’t try to navigate the divorce process alone.

Maybe you and your spouse agree on “everything” (or so you think). Maybe you don’t have a lot of assets to divide or have an agreement as to who gets what if the marriage dissolves and think you and your spouse can handle it on your own and you’d rather not spend the money on a divorce attorney.

If this sounds like your situation, and you’re reluctant to hire a divorce attorney, keep reading. You should make the decision with all of the knowledge and information. Even if the divorce is amicable (so far) and seems like it will be quick and easy, you should still hire an attorney to represent your interests and ensure the order are enforceable.

Here are 9 reasons why hiring a divorce attorney is worth it.

1. They Determine if Your Agreement is Fair

Perhaps you and your soon to be former husband or wife think that you have an agreement that fairly divides your assets and debts between the two of you. An experienced attorney can evaluate this agreement and let you know if it truly is fair for both of you.

While you may think that you are getting a fair deal, a divorce attorney can take a critical eye to the agreement, think towards the future, and identify any hidden inequities that put you spouse at an advantage. Remember that their job is to get the best deal for you and create a solid divorce agreement that will stand up in court.

Even if you’re the party that will benefit more, you still may want to consider rewriting the agreement, as an unfair agreement could be contested in the future if it was grossly unfair to one spouse. If your spouse decides they didn’t get a fair deal, they may be able to go back to court to attempt to reopen the agreement. This will cost time and money, of course.

2. Even If You Agree, You Need a Lawyer to Draft the Agreement

Even if you agree on everything (or most things) and can come to a fair agreement on your own, you’ll still need a divorce attorney to draft an agreement that will be accepted by the court.

If you do not have legal experience and try to do this on your own, the court may not fully understand your agreement, resulting in a divorce decree that does not accurately state what you and your spouse want.  The court can also reject your agreement entirely if it does not follow the law.

When an attorney drafts the agreement, you can rest assured that the decree will state exactly what you and your spouse want. An attorney also will make sure that the language is clear and enforceable.

3. They Will File the Appropriate Paperwork

In addition to drafting the agreement, your attorney will also fire any necessary paperwork and motions as part of the divorce process. If you attempt this on your own, you run the risk of your case getting dismissed if you don’t file the appropriate paperwork at the right time or you file it incorrectly.

While you could attempt this on your own, as most states provide the documents to their citizens free of charge, it is still difficult if you do not have legal expertise. These documents also represent the bare minimum of requirements, and often fail to address everything necessary for your unique family.  The last thing you want is for your case to get thrown out due to procedural issues. This puts you right back at square one.

4. They Reduce Stress and Can Provide Emotional Support

Divorce is a stressful time. Your marriage is ending, you have to divide up your assets, you might have to move, and you could be suddenly sharing custody of your child. The last thing you need is the added stress of managing the divorce process in court yourself.

While a divorce attorney can’t replace a good therapist, they can reduce your stress level and provide emotional support to you. Remember that they are experts and deal with people seeking divorces every day. They know the process inside and out and can provide support when it all gets to be too much to handle.

5. They Can Help Avoid Delays

Divorce can take a long time. It varies by state, but in Florida, it could take as little as a few months to as long as a few years. A divorce taking that long is the exception, rather than the rule, and those cases typically are very acrimonious, contested, and have significant assets that need to be divided.

You likely want the divorce to be finalized as quickly as possible. This is where an attorney comes in. They will prepare the documents and file them for you, avoiding unnecessary delays.

Because they know the ins and outs of divorce law, documents prepared and filed by an attorney will be complete and error-free, keeping the process moving along as fast as the courts will allow.

6. They Know the Law

Every state has its own divorce laws, and your divorce attorney should understand the intricacies of divorce in your particular state. Not only do they understand the laws surrounding the division of assets, but also spousal support and child custody.

They can also use their professional experience and relationships with local judges, other divorce attorneys, and court personnel to give you a better idea of how your case will proceed through the courts.

7. You Have Children

Custody (or parental responsibilities) can be one of the most contested and contentious issues in a divorce. An attorney can help you navigate this process and ensure you keep your rights to your child. They will help you decide what’s in the best interest of your child and help you prepare a case to fight for custody and time-sharing if that’s the best option.

A good family law attorney will remain objective and help you to fight for what’s best for your child or children.

 

8. They Guide Your Decisions

It’s often hard to approach a divorce with a clear and level head. Emotions may cloud your decisions and lead you to make rash decisions. This is where a divorce attorney comes in. They are a neutral third party, not swayed by emotion, and can guide you in your decision making.

9. You Don’t Actually Agree on Everything

Just because you and your spouse think you agree on everything doesn’t mean that’s always the case. Chances are, there are things that you haven’t thought of, such as a life insurance policy to cover child support obligations if one of them passed away. Or who will pay for things like extracurricular activities for their children, healthcare premiums, or doctor office copays?

 

Perhaps you and your spouse agree on the big things, like the house, bank accounts, investments, cars, and other properties, but, likely, you haven’t thought of everything, which is understandable. A professional will have thought of all of these other things and can walk you through them.

What to Look for in a Divorce Attorney

Now that you understand why it’s so necessary to hire a divorce attorney, you might be wondering what you should be looking for.

Before hiring someone, do your research. Talk to friends and family members and ask them for referrals. Read online reviews to see what others have said and speak to the lawyer in person to see if you can work well together.

A few other things to look for include:

  • an attorney who will be honest about what you may get out of the divorce
  • an attorney who can give personal attention (versus a large firm with many clients)
  • clear and effective communication
  • resources and support staff to prepare your case promptly
  • skill and experience with divorce cases
  • timely responses to your questions

You may also wish to check with your state’s bar association to see if your attorney has ever been punished or had their license suspended for any reason.

The Bottom Line

Divorce is a stressful and emotional process that can drag on for far longer than you would like. Take steps to reduce that stress by hiring a divorce attorney. There’s not a lot you can control, but by hiring an attorney, you can control who is advocating for you and ensuring that you come out of the process with a fair outcome.

Our firm can handle all aspects of the divorce process for you, from alimony to child custody and support to child visitation arrangements. Contact us today to learn about what our firm can do to support you.