When children are involved in a divorce, one of the most contentious issues of the divorce proceedings can often be child custody. There are many different factors that play into child custody determinations, most heavily dependent on the unique relationships involved in the divorce. While all aspects of a divorce can be extremely difficult, child custody certainly ranks among the most intimidating. However, knowing what to expect during proceedings related to child custody can help you navigate the process more productively and effectively. The following common tips for approaching child custody can help you cope with this aspect of a divorce and approach child custody issues more confidently. While every child custody situation is unique, these are general tips that are a good place to begin understanding more about the Florida child custody process.
Work with Your Attorney to Understand the Law
The first place to begin your investigation into what child custody entails is to understand the laws in your state. Working with an experienced Florida divorce attorney can help you understand the various nuances and aspects of Florida child custody law. Understanding the way child custody laws work in your state can also help you determine what kind of child custody arrangement will work best for you and your children. It is important to keep in mind that all courts make child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child, but there are many different factors involved in determining what exactly is in the best interests of the child. Some factors are objective, while some are subjective, making the entire process potentially complex. However, making sure you have a basic understanding of Florida child custody law is an important first step in understanding the process and making sure that your rights as a parent are protected. Doing some research on your own can also help make sure you ask your lawyer the right questions when it comes to child custody issues, which can save you time and money throughout the process.
Understand the Nuances of Custody
One you understand the goals you have for child custody proceedings and have determined what you think is the best custody arrangement for you and your children, it is important to understand just what the different forms of custody entail. Whether you are seeking sole custody or have agreed to joint custody, remember that there is a presumption in Florida that a child’s best interests are met when the child has equal access to both parents. Be prepared to have to amend some of the terms you might prefer, and make sure that you are using custody to advance your child’s best interests and not as a way to get back at your ex. Judges also have the ability to modify custody agreements at their discretion, so being prepared to be flexible can only help you if the need arises.
An experienced Florida divorce attorney will keep you informed of what information is required and when. He or she will work with you to make sure you have enough notice to gather important paperwork related to the divorce and child custody. By working with your attorney ahead of time to make sure that you have compiled necessary information for the various Florida divorce proceedings you may need to face, you can save time and money when that information becomes necessary. It is also far less stressful to prepare appropriate documentation for a particular proceeding if you have that information readily accessible. Rescheduling court appearances, refiling paperwork, and last-minute preparations can all add to the cost of your divorce – financially, physically, and emotionally. This can also draw out the divorce process, which is not good for anyone involved.
Be Prepared for Court
Being prepared for court starts with working with your Florida divorce attorney to understand proper courtroom etiquette. While judges are expected to make decisions based on the law and any evidence presented to them, appearance and behavior can influence some judges. Role playing with your lawyer ahead of time is a good way to help you anticipate some of the questions that might be asked of you and for you to have the time to prepare responses and deliver them in a confident, respectful way. If you have a temper, it is important that you find ways to control it because the courtroom is the wrong place to act out in anger. Acknowledging potential pitfalls and finding solutions to avoid or cope with them is an important part of being prepared for any courtroom appearance.
Depending on the type of child custody hearing, it is important that you communicate with your lawyer about what you should expect. Will you have to talk? Who else will be present? What will be decided? What are your options before, during, and after the hearing? These are all important questions that can help you relax and keep your cool before, during, and after a hearing. Many child custody hearings can be straightforward, especially in situations where communication between spouses has allowed them to reach a custody agreement that they have presented to the court. However, as in life, things do not always go as planned. It is a good idea to talk to your Florida divorce attorney about what could happen if things go differently than you expect.
Working with a Florida divorce attorney who understands your needs is essential. If you are considering a Florida divorce and have questions about Florida child custody, or if you are considering modifying your Florida child custody agreement, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation. With years of experience in Florida family law, he can work with you to understand what options might be best for you.