Divorce proceedings always have the potential for being emotionally explosive, and that is never so true as in cases in which child custody is involved. Though what is at stake is what is in the best interests of the children, differing viewpoints, philosophies, and factors that go beyond childrearing can often interfere and make it difficult for both sides to see the answer that is best. When you are involved in a child custody dispute, you should expect your child custody lawyer to protect your parental rights while helping you find terms of custody and visitation that will work for all parties involved and that will be in the best interests of the children.
Couples going through a divorce are rarely aware of the complexities of child custody law. At Smith Horwitz we believe that a child custody lawyer should take the time to make you aware of the many possibilities and options that are available to today’s families, including shared or joint custody, sole custody, and visitation. We also believe that every child custody attorney should take the time to understand the current dynamics of your family so that they can better craft a custody proposal that makes sense.
The courts generally believe that it is best for children to spend time with both of their parents. In most cases that means that children spend the majority of their physical time with one parent and enjoy a liberal amount of visitation with the other. Decision-making responsibility, or legal custody, is often shared. There are no hard and fast rules about how these decisions are made – your child custody attorney should help you to set realistic expectations about your goals and priorities. These decisions are often made out of court, though if agreement cannot be reached then the court will decide on a schedule. Issues that need to be agreed to include overnights, pick-up and drop-off times, how extracurricular activities will be managed, how to share holidays and vacations, and communication or daily contact with the non-custodial parent. An experienced child custody attorney will make sure that each of these issues is specifically addressed so that there are no questions left unanswered and no grey areas over which further disputes can arise.
The most important thing that you should expect from a child custody lawyer in your child custody case is compassion and understanding, not only for you but also for the impact that the disputes may have on your children. A child custody lawyer should be your advocate but should also be able to provide you with an understanding of the benefits of cooperation. Fostering an air of civility and trust is generally in the best interests of the children.
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