Understanding Custody as a Part of your Divorce
For married couples with children – parents, that is – divorce means something different. This is because divorced parents will almost always continue to interact with each other in their roles as parents. A good attorney prepares their client for this fact and understands that parents going through a divorce are not really ending their relationship, but rather litigating or negotiating the terms of their new relationship—their relationship as divorced parents. This fact presents a unique challenge for parents and their attorneys. After all, it usually easy to know what you want from a divorce financially (more assets, less debt), but it may be difficult to know what you want in terms of parental rights and responsibilities as your children grow up.
At the same time, divorces between parents are special because the interests of the child take center stage. Even the best parents can lose of sight of their children’s best interests in a divorce proceeding. When a dispute becomes heated, it is the job of the parent and the parent’s attorney to refocus all parties on the children’s needs.
Unmarried Parents and the Problem of Paternity
For unmarried parents, the basic need to establish a workable, long-term custody and parenting time arrangement is equally central. Unlike married couples, unmarried parents face an additional hurdle: they must establish paternity in a separate suit before the court will rule on a father’s rights and responsibilities. In some cases, the both parents will formally concede paternity. In some cases, they will not.
Preparing for Your Children’s Future
Whether married or not, parents facing suits for custody or parenting time must think of the process as the construction of a contract — a contract that will dictate their own parental rights and also the course of their children’s development from the time the court order takes effect until the time their children reach adulthood (or even beyond). This site is designed to offer accurate and efficient answers to the common questions of parents facing a child-related dispute.
Needless to say, the stakes are high and the pitfalls many. If you are facing a dispute with your spouse or significant other involving your children, the best first step is always to consult with an experienced attorney.