When you became a parent, you likely received a great deal of unsolicited advice from loved ones, acquaintances and even strangers. When others discovered that you are navigating a child custody situation, they likely responded with the same well-intentioned, unsolicited behavior. When others chime in without being asked, it can be difficult to separate the truth from unintentionally crafted fiction. And it can therefore be difficult to know what to believe and what advice should be followed or ignored.
This reality is one of the reasons why it is generally important to consult with an experienced family law attorney early in your child custody dispute timeline. Lawyers experienced in family legal matters can easily separate fact from fiction as it applies to your family’s specific situation. If you are in need of legal assistance in regards to a child custody matter, please consider scheduling a consultation with our firm. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and to clarify any questionable, well-meaning advice you may have received so far. Until our consultation, please consider keeping some of these myth busters in mind.
Myth #1: All Child Custody Disputes Are Contentious
Sometimes, parents have fundamental disagreements related to their child’s custody that can only be successfully decided by a judge. But most often, parents actually agree on most or all of their child’s custody agreement terms out of court. There are two primary methods that parents use in order to avoid a contentious “court battle” kind of dispute. The first is mediation and the second is attorney-assisted negotiation.
During a mediation process, each parent sits down with both their attorneys and a third-party mediator who is neutral. The mediator does not push any specific agenda or takes sides. He or she simply helps to facilitate a constructive process. Attorney-assisted negotiation allows parents to work either primarily with each other or primarily through their attorneys to settle the specific terms of their child’s custody agreement. These methods are often helpful for parents who want to avoid having the fate of their custody dispute placed in the hands of a judge.
Myth #2: A Parent’s Preference Is Paramount
When judges are called upon to settle a contentious dispute, they are bound by the “best interests of the child” standard. This standard requires family law courts to prioritize a child’s best interests over parental preferences that may conflict with those interests. For example, if a parent wants to have residential placement of a child every other week but that arrangement is seriously counterproductive to that child’s school schedule, a judge will likely overrule a parent’s preference in deference to his or her child’s best interests.
Answers to Questions About Child Custody
If you have questions about child custody matters, please do not hesitate to contact our firm. With the exception of the “best interests of the child” standard, there are few hard and fast rules that apply to child custody disputes. As a result, it is helpful to connect with an attorney so that you can be advised of your legal options according to your family’s unique circumstances. Asking questions never hurts, but failing to obtain necessary clarification from an experienced family law lawyer in Rockville, MD may affect you and your child for years to come.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and common myths about child custody battles.