Child Custody Basics: When Parents Are Legally Separated
If you and your spouse are contemplating separation or divorce, it may be helpful to understand how your approach will impact your child custody arrangements. If you and your child’s other parent separate informally, you may be able to temporarily work out child custody arrangements between yourselves without involving the legal system. But if you legally separate either in anticipation of divorce or in order to delay a decision related to your marital status, you will likely need to formalize custody arrangements for any minor children that will be affected by your transition from a dual-parent household to two distinct households. Our firm will be happy to answer any questions you may have about this formalization process.
Custody Determination Standard
For better and for worse, family law judges are bound to determine child custody arrangements according to the “best interests of the child” standard. This is true whether the child custody orders apply to parents who are legally separated or divorced. Most of the time, judges will accept proposed child custody terms if co-parents can agree on them outside of court. Unless the terms are clearly not in the affected child’s best interests, family law courts try to respect arrangements that have been mutually drafted by both parents. But if a judge has to intervene and determine the terms of a child custody order due to fundamental parental disagreements, that judge will make a best interests determination as he or she sees fit.
It is worth noting that unless your relationship is plagued by abuse or fundamental disagreements between you and your child’s other parent prevent you from working out your differences without judicial intervention, mediation or negotiation of child custody terms is generally preferable to a contested process. When you help to control the terms of your child’s custody arrangement, the process is more likely to reflect his or her best interests. Nobody knows your child better than you do. So, it is important to preserve your voice in the process when possible. With that said, if a contested process becomes necessary, our firm will help to ensure that your legal strategy is sound and that your voice is heard during the course of your custody determination. There are no guarantees associated with a contested process, but there are certain legal strategies that are generally more successful than others.
Child Custody Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about the child custody determination process, please consider connecting with a family lawyer in Rockville, MD today. Scheduling a consultation does not obligate you to take legal action, so you do not need to hesitate to reach out with your questions. All speaking with a lawyer will ensure is that your decisions about your child’s custody are better informed. And should you require legal assistance, they will be more than happy to speak with you about their approach to representation. Lawyers are passionate about helping parents to ensure that their children’s best interests are served and sincerely look forward to speaking with you.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and child custody for separated parents.