A custody dispute can be very stressful for everyone involved and it should never be taken lightly. They’re often drawn out and involve many, complicated legal steps and decisions. However, every custody dispute is unique to the family in question. All custody disputes take place, as assumed, for the right reasons and with the best interests of the children in mind.
You might wonder what is required to win a custody dispute. We would say that it’s more about minimizing the loss rather than about winning. The child will lose some contact with one of the parents and this can never be seen as a victory in the true sense of the word.
It is difficult to give tips on how to win a custody dispute because all cases, as we mentioned, are unique. We can still list some more general tips that can be useful in how you can navigate through a custody dispute and win.
Get the right professional help
The most important tip we can give is to hire an expert lawyer who will be by your side throughout the custody battle. If, for instance, you live in the state of Illinois, Kansas, or Missouri, you should search for the best child custody attorneys in Midwest area, and choose the one you feel most comfortable with.
In addition to the expertise and experience required, you also need confidential support. A custody dispute can be very upsetting and emotional and experience shows that the right support by your side can make a difference and give you the strength to continue.
To prevent the custody dispute from reaching a court, there’s a possibility of attempting mediation, which aims to get the parents to agree on issues concerning the child. In certain states and counties, mediation may be required, meaning that somebody from the court will discuss the custody with you and try to work out an agreement concerning the custody and visitation rights.
If the mediation turns out successful, the custody and mediation agreement will be written out and approved by a judge, and become a court order.
File a custody complaint
If it’s obvious that the parents cannot agree on custody, and if mediation with the court has not yielded any results, there is no alternative but to take the matter to court. The first step is filing a custody complaint with the court in the country where the parent or child resides or where the child is physically present.
Since other forms need to be filed along with the complaint, verify with your attorney or with the clerk of the court that you have obtained all the necessary forms. You should keep in mind that there’s a filing fee that needs to be paid to start the custody case and if you’re unable to cover the fee, you can fill out a ‘petition to sue as an indigent‘ form and request the court to waive the filing fee for you.
Get the custody papers served
After filing the paperwork and paying the fee, you must make sure the defendant is served with the copies of the document you filed. You cannot serve the papers yourself but this has to be carried out by an enforcement officer, a private process server, or any other individual who’s not a party above the age of 21.
If represented by an attorney, the defendant might also consent to service on their attorney in what’s referred to as an “acceptance of service.” This means that the papers may be served either on the defendant or their attorney, on behalf of the defendant. Talk to your attorney about how you can serve the defendant with the custody papers if you cannot find the defendant.
Obtain proper evidence
During the trial, you need to present evidence that proves what you claim. If, for instance, you consider that the other parent is unfit as a guardian, then you need to be able to prove it in some way. Just a claim that the other parent is unreliable or unstable is not enough. This includes evidence like your own testimony, witnesses’ testimony, police records, or any medical records that prove domestic violence.
The judge will assess the submitted evidence and decide whether you or the other parent should have custody, what type of custody, and the type of visitation the non-custodial parent will get.
A child custody battle is a difficult process that nobody wants to go through, but when you follow the abovementioned invaluable tips, the odds for you to get the best possible outcome and come out on the other side a lot stronger will be much greater.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.