Divorce and custody cases can either be resolved when the parents resolve their differences by agreement, or, when they can’t agree on a resolution of one or all of the issues, they present their evidence and arguments to a judge who will resolve their disputes for them.
In both cases, whether the case is resolved by agreement or the judge’s decision, the judge will sign a court order that sets out the shared custody arrangement going forward.
Most custody cases are resolved between the parents by agreement. One of the most important roles that a child custody lawyer can play in your custody case is to help you predict what your particular judge will do under your particular circumstances as it relates to custody. This information should help you to inform your decision about whether to settle your custody dispute with primary custody, joint custody, or some kind of visitation.
When you are considering whether to settle your custody case, an important thing to keep in mind is that an initial custody determination, once it is made, can be hard to change. When parents settle their custody case and later one of them decides that the agreed custody arrangement is no longer in the child’s best interest, it will not be enough for that parent to simply to prove that the arrangement is not in the child’s best interest anymore. Instead, the parent who wants to change custody has to prove first that a significant and meaningful and material change of circumstances in the parties’ lives has occurred since the initial custody determination. Only after proving that can the parent attempt to prove that a change of custody is in the children’s best interest. And in some cases, proving a material change can be very difficult.
So when we two parents consider settling their custody case with joint custody (or any other custodial arrangement, for that matter), one of the most important contributions that a good lawyer can make to that process is working through the immediate and future consequences of that settlement.
At Mann & Kemp, one of the most frequent types of cases that we get involve an attempt by one parent to change custody after the parties’ divorce decree gets signed by the judge. Many of those clients are surprised to learn how difficult custody changes truly are, and it really highlights the importance of understanding the future impact of a decision to settle for joint custody (or any other custodial arrangement) before you agree to that settlement.
If you are looking for a child custody lawyer, talk to Angela, Harrison or Hamilton at Mann & Kemp by calling (501) 222-4730 for information about the consequences of different custody arrangements.