Eye-opening Tips When Filing Custody for the First Time
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Are you're worried about whether or not you should take the leap towards obtaining legal custody? Worried whether or not your child deadbeat dad has a legal claim to a child he hasn't seen since conception? Or you just want to get it done the right way and you so you need all the details before diving in. Here are four eye-opening tips when filing for custody for the first time.
Well, the matter of custody can be a stressful situation no matter the circumstances you came from. And though we know that in most states that the state favors the mother in the matter of legal custody, it' still important to know all the facts.
The decision to file for custody and the outcome depends on many factors. Circumstances such as children born in marriage or out of wedlock also help determine the grounds of custody arrangements. Going to court can be expensive and messy, at least you'll be handling it the right way.
If you're worried about your ex filing for custody, it's best to start planning ahead to know what you might be facing. It's also best to start thinking about whether you'll need or even want to bring on a lawyer. If you can afford a lawyer or what kind of "evidence" or paperwork you will need to support your reasoning for sole custody so that the judge can give a fair ruling in your case. It's all really heavy stuff so it's best to be super prepared.
Unmarried Mothers Custody Rights
If you are a mother who has had your children out of marriage, then you may be wondering how does child custody work if you're not married. In most states, you automatically have one hundred percent legal custody. That is until the father establishes his paternity, then files through the court system. Also, if he, the father, has not signed the birth certificates, then you still have legal custody in which there is no reason to file at this time until the father eventually wants to establish paternity and "activate" his rights.
If you were married then your husband is presumed to be the father and you may end up with a joint custody agreement. In the case that the father has signed the birth certificate then it is also presumed by the court that the mother and father have joint custody. Also, if you have legitimate safety concerns in regard to withholding visitation from the father, then you would need to file for custody.
Should I Hire a family law attorney?
Hiring a family law attorney can be expensive. So the real question I think is whether or not you can afford the extra expense. If you feel confident with proceeding without a lawyer then by all means, but this is not to be taken lightly. If you are to go through filing on your own, know that the process may move a little slower than it would with a lawyer at your side. The process is a lot more time consuming without one, but if it's not an option at this time, it is recommended that you at least speak with one to know what to expect going forward and how to best represent your case.
If you would like to proceed with a lawyer, research family law attorney's in your area and if you're strapped for cash see if there are firms/organizations in your area that would work your case pro bono. When researching and interviewing these lawyers ask lots of questions regarding their experience and all associated fees. For example, how long they've been practicing family law, if they will charge you one flat fee or if it's an hourly rate. For more info on child custody attorney fees check this post out here.
KEEP A RECORD OF EVERYTHING
If you have been busting your ass for years and then he shows up out of nowhere demanding full custody (yes this is a thing smh). Have tangible proof of his absence. What I mean by that is have phone call records, printed out screenshots, and phone calls transferred to a flash drive. Save EVERYTHING for your "rainy day" just in case you need a lawyer.
Save your screenshots from emails, text or Facebook messages from over the years of you asking him to come see his child. If you haven't already downloaded the "TapACall" app do that now. There's a free and paid version. Record every call with him, assuming you can get him on the phone, of you trying to make plans for him see your child.
If there is a reason as to why you are withdrawing visitation from the father at this time, have that prepared for court too. If it is a safety concern, get it on paper. Going to court can be expensive and messy, at least you'll be handling it the right way. In the eyes of the law, the non-custodial parent (the father) still has the right to see his child. These are two separate cases and should be acknowledged as such. If a mother is withdrawing visitation from the dad, it could also endanger her position in court.
What Should I Do If I Lose?
As mothers, it's only natural that we want to win or more like we need to. Being apart from our little ones for an extended amount of time can be painful and almost unbearable. Especially if you've been the primary custodian up until this point. Don't spend the majority of the process with the mindset of losing, but don't rule out the possibility of it not happening either. You don't want to be completely blindsided by the judges finale ruling so it's best to think about all possible outcomes from the get-go.
In the event that the judge rules in favor of the father gaining sole custody or joint (if you were going against that), you'll have to wait until the judges final ruling the make an appeal. Keep in mind the higher courts will not reopen a case made in family court and a case will not be granted an appeal without sufficient data supporting your request.
Custody battles can be some nasty business. In the midst of it all, we can lose sight of the bigger picture. What's best for our children. As long as it's safe, you must put aside any bitter or resentful feelings you may have towards the father. The system wants both parents to be happily evolved and successfully co-parenting their children.