Texas Flag
Texas Divorce Laws

Child Custody Lawyer: What Are They, And Do You Need One?

Michael Tierney
December 18, 2022

Child custody can be one of the more hostile negotiation points when divorce proceedings are underway. Part of creating a life with someone is having children together to create a family. While this family connection is an incredible bond that makes your marriage all the more important, divorce can disrupt that family dynamic.

Unfortunately, it is common for children to be dragged into the hostility that can arise between separated couples. While some try to weaponize their children against their spouses, others operate in their child's best interests. Ultimately, children become involved in divorce proceedings, and the biggest concern is figuring out which parent will be assigned custody and which will be given visitation permissions.

Child custody arrangements are extremely difficult to negotiate due to the various factors considered during the negotiations. There are also multiple types of custody that alter the permissions each parent has when raising their child.

These negotiations must take place whether you are married or not. Getting through these negotiations can be challenging for those who are not educated in legal matters. Being able to navigate the intricacies of legal negotiations, especially for child custody, is best left to attorneys who are well-versed in these details.

Solution While most people already employ the services of divorce attorneys to help them through the process, it might be important to find an attorney specializing in child custody arrangements.

However, not many people know what, if anything, distinguishes a child custody lawyer from a standard divorce attorney.

What is a Child Custody Lawyer?

The term "child custody lawyer" is not entirely accurate and is a colloquialism for a family law attorney.

Family law attorneys are not distinct from divorce attorneys as divorce attorneys are part of family law proceedings and are trained to guide negotiations. Family law attorneys specialize in all the legal matters associated with divorce and child custody arrangements but not always.

A family law attorney is a title that occasionally employs a degree of nuance as to what parts of the law they are capable of navigating. This is because certain titles are similar to others and could cause people to mistake one type of attorney for another. A family law attorney can handle divorce, child custody, support, etc. Unfortunately, there are also family lawyers.

Parents Meeting Child Custody Lawyer

Family lawyers share a similar title to family law lawyers, which means that some people mistake one for the other. The problem is that a family lawyer handles issues like businesses and estates left in the wake of someone's death. This means contacting a family lawyer for something a family law lawyer should handle can waste time and resources.

Solution This is why it is important to ensure the attorney you contact is trained in divorce law rather than estate law. A family law lawyer is the child custody lawyer you are looking for; the two attorneys are the same.

Child custody lawyers can guide you through child custody negotiations and help you optimize your case to increase your chance of being the custodial parent. But you might wonder whether you need one at all, depending on the lifestyle you lead. This is a reasonable question, but you will almost certainly need a child custody lawyer if you are going through a divorce.

Do You Need a Child Custody Lawyer?

It is easy to believe that your relationship with your spouse is strong enough that you will not need a lengthy negotiation to sort out child custody. Alternatively, you might believe your spouse is unequipped to take custody of your child, and there is no risk of losing custody of them. Unfortunately, these cases have a way of blindsiding people when the spouse ends up better equipped to handle the divorce than initially anticipated.

Even still, you might wonder whether you genuinely need the services of a family law attorney to navigate the divorce proceedings and win a custody negotiation. Usually, the need for a child custody attorney is only voided when you and your spouse have an uncontested divorce and your negotiated custody arrangement was agreed upon before the divorce process was underway.

Unfortunately, it is more common for your spouse to be antagonistic during divorce, and they will likely fight viciously to earn custody. They will likely want to maximize their chances of successfully securing custody through any means possible. This will likely include your spouse retaining the services of a child custody attorney for their claims.

Solution If your spouse retains the services of such an attorney and you do not, you will be negotiating from a severely weakened position and risk losing custody.

Parent With a Child Custody Lawyer

While it is within your rights to represent yourself in legal proceedings, it is not recommended unless you are an attorney. Attorneys are objectively better equipped to handle these negotiations than private citizens, so attempting to face the negotiations against your spouse's attorney will likely result in your arguments being overpowered.

The basic principle is that you should get a child custody attorney if you have any reason to believe your spouse has one. Having an attorney in your corner is essential when faced with a divorce process where your spouse is represented. While protecting yourself against your spouse's legal team is important, there are other important reasons to retain the services of a child custody attorney during the divorce process.

Is Your Spouse Planning on Relocating?

One of the more complicated parts of divorce is when the ex-spouse intends to relocate once the divorce process is complete. This can happen quickly, or it might take a few years before the spouse is ready to move. Either way, when an ex-spouse relocates, it tends to interfere with existing child custody arrangements.

Solution Relocation means another state's laws can apply to the custody arrangements rather than the laws from the state you lived in while you were married.

These changes in state law can be virtually impossible to navigate when you are a citizen without legal training. Attempting to assess the changes and keep track of them yourself is not recommended and is an important part of why a child custody lawyer is important.

Ex Spouse Moving Away

A child custody lawyer is usually only trained to handle the laws of the state they are in, not states outside their jurisdiction. This is because the Bar Association has lawyers certified within a state, and only the states that complete the Bar examination are where they can practice. However, some attorneys can navigate the laws of multiple states and help you ensure your visitation and custody rights are not affected by your ex's relocation. So, if your spouse is leaving the state, you should retain the services of a child custody lawyer. Unfortunately, there are still other reasons for hiring these lawyers.

Are You or Your Children Victims of Abuse?

Divorce is a complicated legal process that can be stressful for couples, but it can be further complicated. One of the biggest crises in the United States of America is spousal and child abuse. Abusive spouses are frighteningly common in modern marriages, and they often jeopardize the health and safety of their families to the point of death in extreme cases.

Being the victim of abuse is a serious issue and something that can haunt you for the rest of your life, affecting subsequent relationships due to the trauma. The only possible benefit abuse has is that it can prevent the abuser from having any contact with you once it is reported to the authorities. Abusers are often subjected to restraining orders that legally prevent them from contacting or interacting with their victims.

Victims of Domestic Abuse

Unfortunately, not every victim can report the abuse out of fear of their spouse or trauma from previous acts of defiance. As a result, victims often keep the abuse quiet to avoid vengeance from their abuser, even when their abusers cannot harm them. While there are federal laws that punish abusive spouses, their rights during divorce negotiations can be invalidated. If dealing with child custody arrangements, their ability to stake a custody claim can be refused if you or your child was abused. With the right proof, a child custody attorney can prove that allowing the child to remain with an abusive parent puts them at risk of continued abuse.

Solution The priority of any court during child custody negotiations is to ensure the child is placed in their best interests.

This means the courts will never allow a child to be placed with a confirmed abuser since it endangers them. Proving your spouse is abusive can be difficult if you are representing yourself and might make it impossible depending on the trauma you likely endured at their hands. It might prevent you from being able to speak out against them actively. A child custody attorney can speak on your behalf and ensure you are properly represented and your spouse's abuse is brought to light.

Are You Trying to Modify an Existing Arrangement?

Child custody lawyers are not exclusively used during divorce proceedings and occasionally find their use after the divorce is finalized and a child custody arrangement has been established. When a custody arrangement is confirmed post-divorce, it is common for the life situations of both parents and the child to change. These changes can be positive or negative but will ultimately affect the lifestyle of everyone involved.

These changes can also impact the viability of an existing child custody arrangement and put the non-custodial parent in a better position to assume custody than they were initially. This could lead you to seek an adjustment to the current custody arrangement so it becomes more favorable to your situation. While it is possible to request this alteration, it is less likely to succeed without input from a qualified attorney. Attorneys can provide additional information that might improve the sustainability of your case.

Parent Speaking With an Attorney

Hiring a child custody attorney to represent you in the negotiations regarding an altered custody arrangement can significantly improve your chances of success. The most important tool an attorney offers when adjusting an existing agreement is asserting your position more effectively to the judge. Parents cannot alter the agreement on the fly and must present the request to a judge for review.

Your attorney can help reinforce the arguments for why you want to alter the arrangement using evidence supporting your cited reasons. Ultimately, an attorney can radically enhance the chances of a successful alteration to custody arrangements while attempting to make the change alone is more likely to fail.

Learn the Law

Child custody arrangements are extremely complicated and sensitive agreements between divorced or separated couples who share a child. While it is nice to think that your relationship will always be amicable and you can negotiate custody without a judge, this is not always true. Some relationships cannot remain friendly, and people require mediation from a judge to negotiate.

When you get divorced, it is common practice to retain the services of an attorney who can navigate the intricacies of divorce law on your behalf. While you might be more inclined to try and resolve your divorce without representation, it will leave you at a disadvantage. Child custody attorneys are among the best resources for ensuring the child custody arrangement in your divorce is drafted in your favor.

Child Custody Law

Unfortunately, child custody is not the only concern during divorce proceedings. While it is one of the more important details since a child's life is extremely fragile, there are other issues you must be prepared to face. Divorce law is extremely complicated and one of the most intense civil cases. While attorneys are the best resources for navigating the information pertinent to divorce, it is possible to arm yourself with knowledge.

The more information you have about divorce, the less likely you are to be blindsided by some of the more underhanded tactics your spouse might employ. It will also brace you for other negotiations and compromises you will have to make. We realize this is a highly unpleasant situation, and we hope this article helps.

If you have any questions about anything regarding the divorce process, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'd be more than happy to get you pointed in the right direction and assist you however possible.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Michael Tierney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Divorce Newsletter
Subscribe to receive information, free guides and tutorials