Sometimes you feel as if life is pulling you in a thousand different directions when all you care about is one specific aspect.
Such is the case when you’re going through a divorce in which you have children with your former spouse. That’s a tough situation for all three roles: you, your ex-spouse, and your kids.
You love them. You want to be with them as much as possible. But, depending on the situation, you also realize the importance of them having both parents heavily involved in their life.
Here are some questions to ask during a child custody trial to help you make more sense of this highly confusing and challenging time.
1. What’s Your Attorney’s Background?
While going through this process, you’re going to find yourself in a phase of hiring an attorney for your side of the custody battle.
Because of that, the first question you’ll want to ask is what their background looks like. This could be in regards to their education, legal experience, law firm specializations, etc.
You’ll want to ensure that you’re working with someone that has significant experience in the child custody realm, such as the fine people at Laschuk Law.
2. What Fees Should You Expect?
The last question for the attorney hiring process before this article moves on to questions regarding the child custody process.
You won’t want any surprises on costs and fees throughout this process. So be sure to exhaust all questions pertaining to the attorney costs.
How much do they charge? How often do they send the bills out? When is the payment going to be due? What other fees should you be expecting?
Lastly, ask them for a ballpark figure on what the total will be for your specific child custody case.
3. What Factors Play a Role?
Whether you knew it or not, there is a bevy of factors that the court uses to come to their decision on a child custody case.
They want to place the kid(s) in the best position possible.
That’s why things like each parent’s health, the needs of the child, the child’s preference, any signs of abuse, and community features all play a role.
The court will take all of that into consideration. It’s up to you and your attorney to prove that you have a better living situation for your kids to thrive.
4. Is Sole or Shared Custody Right for Your Situation?
Perhaps you’re not in a situation where you want the child to only live with you. It’s one of those situations where both you and your ex are able to provide your children with a great life.
If that’s the case then shared custody may be an avenue. If not, then you’ll want to fight for sole custody.
Both are in reference to the legal and physical responsibilities you and your ex will or won’t have on your child. Talk with your attorney about which they’d recommend for your situation.
5. What’s Legal and Physical Custody?
You’re going to be fighting for both, so it’s vitally important you know the difference between the two.
Essentially, legal custody is giving the responsibility to make all decisions for your child. These things include but aren’t limited to factors like where they go to school, their religion, and health care needs as well.
Sole or shared custody will determine whether you make these decisions alone or together with your ex-spouse.
Physical custody is exactly what it sounds like: it’s granted to the parent who the child will stay with.
Just like legal custody, physical custody can be granted to one parent (sole custody) or shared time between the two (shared custody).
The court will decide each parent’s level of involvement in both aspects. Depending on your situation, they may heavily lean towards one side from the very start which brings us to our next question…
6. Does the Court Favor the Mother’s Side?
First and foremost, the court’s job is to weigh out both sides, such as the previously-mentioned factors, and reach a decision on the facts that are presented.
Given that, they won’t close their minds off to what the father’s side has to say right from the get-go.
However, there is a legal principle referred to as the “tender years doctrine” that comes into play.
This principle points out that children between the ages of four or younger (the “tender” years) should be in the custody of the mother. Why? Because the mother is seen as the primary caregiver within those years.
Needless to say, every child custody case is different and there are always different things that need to be considered. So the tender years doctrine doesn’t automatically trump any other evidence that’s presented by the father’s side.
7. Who Determines the Visitation?
So, say it’s determined that either the father or mother gets sole (or primary) custody of the kid(s).
Who then determines the visitation frequency and dates? The short answer is both.
That said, the court would prefer the parents to make that decision and come to an agreement together.
However, if the two sides can’t come to an agreement, then the court isn’t shy to make a visitation schedule for you. One that typically falls in favor of the side that was granted sole custody.
Even if both sides reach an agreement amicably, the proposal must be submitted to the court for final approval. So either way, the court will play a factor.
Questions to Ask During a Child Custody Trial: Be Informed
As you can see, the best way to familiarize yourself with the process is through the questions to ask during a child custody trial.
Get yourself informed so that you and your attorney can start building the case for your custody of your beloved children.