The end of a marriage is an emotionally and financially challenging situation, often coming with difficult decisions about the future. The crude divorce-rate statistic in America is currently at 2.3 per 1,000, meaning that nearly 40-50% of marriages will end in divorce, and in some cases, child custody matters must be addressed.
Situations can vary widely, but if you and your former partner cannot come to an agreement through negotiation or mediation, then a judge will determine the details of custody based on what is in the best interest of the children. To help ensure a positive outcome for both you and your children, it is beneficial to understand the various legal procedures and strategies associated with child custody proceedings.
In this article, we will provide an overview of the process of winning child custody after a divorce, discuss factors that may influence your case, and custody rights, as well as outline strategies for successfully obtaining child custody after divorce. Call Tommalieh Law today to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Orland Park child custody attorney!
What is a Child Custody Case?
Child custody issues or cases are heard in a family court, usually as part of the divorce proceedings process. The judge will consider the wishes of both parents, as well as any other relevant factors, with the goal of providing a safe and secure environment for the children.
Usually, a child custody case determines two distinct parts: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves the right to make decisions about important aspects of a child’s life, such as education and medical care. Physical custody involves the everyday living arrangements for the children, such as where they will live and the period of time each parent will spend with them.
In many cases, parents are able to negotiate and come to a mutual agreement on these matters. However, if they cannot, the court will issue a ruling as to who will have legal and physical custody.
The Process of a Child Custody Case
The court has original jurisdiction to determine the outcome of a child custody dispute, and it must have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction in order to make a valid ruling.
In most states, the process of a child custody case follows a similar pattern. The first step is usually to file a petition with the court. This petition outlines the details of the dispute, along with any proposed solutions or agreements that have been reached between the two parties.
Once a petition is filed, the court will set a hearing date. Both parents must attend this hearing along with their lawyers. During the hearing "custody trial", each parent will present their case burden of proof rests on both parents to make their case for custody. Afterward, the judge will make a ruling based on what is in the best interest of the children.
In a contested divorce, the parents may be required to attend mediation in an effort to reach an agreement regarding custody, but if this fails then the judge will make a ruling on sole custody, joint custody, or visitation rights.
Moreover, child support payments, parenting plans, and primary custody are all essential components of a successful child custody case. Also, the judge will take into account parental rights, status quo, and parenting responsibilities when making a custody decision. These are necessary for the child’s welfare and emotional development.
Interestingly, the courts strive to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. In most cases, parents will be able to agree on custodial arrangements. This agreement is then presented to the court for approval, and it will become a legally binding court order. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will decide on a custody arrangement, as a legal issue for consideration.
To determine what is in the best interest of the children, the court will consider various factors such as age, gender, mental and physical health of the child and parents, emotional bonds between parent and child, and the child’s preference (if appropriate). The court may also consider the lifestyle, stability, and other important elements of each parent’s home.
Factors That May Affect Your Case
If the court must make a decision, certain factors may affect any child custody matter. These generally include the following:
- The child's relationship with each parent and other significant people in their life, such as extended family members.
- The child's current home environment and living conditions.
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Any history of substance abuse or addiction
- The child's wishes, if they are old enough to express them.
- The parent's ability to cooperate and communicate with each other.
- The parent's current lifestyle, such as their work schedule or ability to care for the child.
- Any allegations of child abuse or sexual abuse
- The child's stability and continuity in the existing school, home, and community.
- Any history of criminal convictions by either parent.
- Other relevant factors as determined by the court.
In limited circumstances, the court will consider the opinions of any third parties such as family members, friends, or even teachers and counselors. In certain cases, the court may consider expert testimony from a forensic psychologist, mental health professional, or social worker.
Potential Strategies/Tips to Win a Child Custody Case
When preparing to fight for custody, it is important to understand the court’s perspective and to be aware of the factors that may affect your case. While there are no guarantees in a court hearing, there are several strategies and tips that may help you win your case.
Focus on the Best Interest of Your Child
Above all else, it is important to remember that the primary consideration should always be what is in the best interest of your children. If you can focus on that goal and act accordingly, you will be better prepared to make decisions throughout the process that can help ensure a positive outcome for your children.
Work Together to Keep Things From Getting Ugly
Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, but it’s important to remember that your children come first. Working together with your former partner in a cooperative and amicable way can help minimize the stress and allow you to come to an agreement that is beneficial for all involved. If you can maintain a level of mutual respect, it will help ensure that the process goes smoothly and provide the best outcome for your children.
Address Issues That Could Work Against You
If there are any issues that could potentially work against you in a child custody case, it’s important to address them head-on. This can include anything from substance abuse or mental health issues to domestic violence or financial instability. Being honest and transparent about your circumstances can help demonstrate that you are taking the process seriously and are willing to work towards a solution that is in the best interest of your children.
Exercise Caution With Your Social Media Use
It’s important to be aware of how your social media accounts can be used in a child custody case, so it’s wise to be vigilant with your online activities. Treat your social media accounts as an extension of the courtroom and use caution when posting information or pictures that could be used against you. It’s also important to avoid making negative or disparaging comments about your former partner or the court proceedings.
Be Prepared for the Child Custody Hearing
Fundamentally, you must be prepared and organized for your child custody hearing. Make sure you have all of the necessary paperwork, documents, and any other evidence to make your case as strong as possible. It’s also helpful to practice ahead of time and know exactly what you want to say in the hearing. Being well-prepared can help ensure that everything goes smoothly and you have the best chance at obtaining custody.
Stay Positively Engaged in Your Child's Life
Even when you are not able to be physically present with your child, it is important to stay actively and positively engaged in their life. Make sure to stay in regular communication with the children, either through phone calls or video chats. If you are able to, send cards and letters with encouraging messages, send gifts, or create special projects that you can do together. Showing your child that you are still an important part of their life can help keep them connected to you during the child custody process.
Keep Up With Your Child’s School Activities
It is important to stay informed about your child’s school performance, extracurricular activities, and other interests. Make sure to check in regularly with teachers, coaches, and other adults involved in your child’s life. This will help you stay updated on their progress and give you the opportunity to provide support and guidance.
You may not get everything you want in a child custody agreement, so it’s important to be flexible and willing to compromise. Negotiating a fair agreement that works for both sides can go a long way toward having a successful outcome.
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Moreover, regardless of the child custody arrangement, it is important to be supportive of your child’s relationship with their other parent. Encourage them to speak positively about their other parent and allow them to spend quality time with them. Your child needs a positive and healthy relationship with both of their parents, so be sure to foster this connection in any way that you can.
Divorce is an emotionally difficult process and the prospect of having to go to court for child custody can be overwhelming. However, with the right knowledge and strategies from an experienced Orland Park divorce attorney, you can put yourself in a good position to successfully obtain custody of your children. With the right approach, it is possible to come to an agreement that is beneficial for all involved. Ultimately, how you handle a child custody case depends on the particular circumstances and the laws of your state.
Engage an Experienced Family Law Firm
It is important to hire an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate the complexities of the child custody battle. A child custody attorney can provide invaluable advice and help you understand the legal process, your custody rights and obligations, and other important aspects of your case. A family lawyer can also assist with communication between you and your former partner, helping to ensure that the divorce process remains as amicable as possible.
At Tommalieh Law, our team is dedicated to providing clients with the best possible legal representation. We understand how difficult and stressful this process can be, and our team of professionals is here to help you every step of the way.
Contact us at (708) 232-0017 today for a consultation to discuss your legal options.