Do I Need a Lawyer for Child Custody?
Technically, anyone can start and finish a custody case on their own. In fact, the Alabama court system provides do-it-yourself forms you can fill out and file in custody proceedings. But the do-it-yourself approach is not always the best choice when the custody of your child is at stake. Depending on the legal claims you are facing in a custody case, forging ahead without an attorney could expose you to restrictions on your parenting time, increased child support obligations, or other limitations on your parenting rights.
When Should I Get a Lawyer for Child Custody?
When a court makes decisions on custody, it decides the following:
- The physical access each parent will have to the child,
- The amount of control each parent will have over the child, and
- The power each parent will have to direct their child’s education.
And the court makes these decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child.
Given the above, a custody proceeding can get complicated fast and leave you spinning when the time comes to make important decisions about your child. So, hiring an attorney to help you before you face challenges in a custody case is often the best way to resolve your issues with your ex. If you are dealing with the following circumstances in a divorce case, you might want to hire an attorney as soon as possible.
1. When Your Ex Has an Attorney
When parties in family law cases represent themselves, they still have to follow all the rules of the court. Therefore, you are at a distinct disadvantage when your ex has an attorney and you don’t. Your ex’s attorney will likely know all the right objections to make during a hearing and all the legal tricks to use to get the best outcome for your ex, often at your expense. Without attorney help on your end, you could miss opportunities and make missteps that could cost you dearly.
2. When There Are Claims of a Substance Use Disorder in Your Case
Whether your ex claims that you have a substance use disorder or you have substance use concerns regarding your ex, you should probably have an attorney to help you navigate your case. Alabama courts aim to give joint custody to separating parents, but a substance use concern might be grounds to restrict the child’s exposure to the substance user. And proving or disproving a claim of a substance use disorder could require opinions from experts, medical records, and complicated questioning on the witness stand. All of these matters are much better handled by an experienced attorney.
3. When Your Case Involves Domestic Violence
If domestic violence is a concern in your case, a knowledgeable child custody lawyer knows what steps to take to protect your rights and safeguard your child’s wellbeing. An attorney can help you obtain protective orders against an abusive ex. They can also put you in contact with professionals who can evaluate the effects that domestic violence has had on your child and what your child needs to remain safe and healthy. And if you have been accused of domestic violence, an attorney can help make sure your rights are not restricted more than what is necessary.
4. When Your Child Has Special Needs
Sometimes a child requires extraordinary medical care or extra attention in school to thrive. And making sure that these needs are addressed in a custody order can be a daunting undertaking, especially if the parents do not agree on custody matters. To make the right decision for a child with special needs, the court will likely need the following information:
- Medical records,
- Testimony from healthcare professionals,
- School records,
- Testimony from education professionals,
- Testimony from the child’s teachers, and
- Testimony from the parents.
Presenting this evidence in the light most favorable to your position requires a lot of legal finesse. This includes knowing how to lay proper foundations to get evidence admitted and how to ask the right questions to get your points across. Making sure a child with special needs gets the proper attention in a custody case is a high-stakes matter that an attorney should handle.
Charlotte Christian Law Can Protect Your Family
Are you still asking, Do I need a child custody lawyer? Should I fight for custody without a lawyer? Well, the best way to find out is to schedule a no-obligation consultation with Charlotte Christian Law. We have been in practice for more than 20 years, and we have experienced, award-winning child custody attorneys in Alabama who want to help you. Give us a call at (256) 859-7277 or reach us online today.