Many folks believe that cutting the lawyers out of the equation when initially handling child custody issues is a good way to save time and money. This is a decision that can lead to major trouble in the long run, and it often ends up being far more expensive. Take a look at why it's better to work with an attorney instead of establishing an informal agreement.
Friendly Arrangements Don't Always Stay Friendly
One of the most common reasons some may avoid hiring a child custody attorney is because they see it as an aggressive action. Worse, they might fear the other parent will see it as aggressive. Friendly co-parenting is a commendable impulse, and it's still possible within a structured and legally-binding agreement. Asking for an agreement will also test just how willing the other parent is to play nicely. However, things can turn sour if there isn't a strong legal presence throughout the process.
Over the course of your child's life, there will be times when someone needs to provide a definitive answer regarding a host of things, such as schooling, religion, medical treatment, living arrangements, and visitation rights. Some of the folks asking these questions also won't accept an informal answer. It is best to get everything down on paper and with signatures, and that paperwork should go through the family court system. If there is a dispute down the road, the formal child custody agreement will answer who has a say and how decisions will go.
The law is big. It is hard to cover every possible scenario that might impact your child custody arrangement. A child custody attorney, though, will help you to anticipate things like what happens if both parents die or one of the parents wants to move out of state.
Protecting Your Rights
It is easy in an informal arrangement to end up on the wrong side of things. This can happen whether both parties intend it or not. You should know what your rights are, and you should hear them from a lawyer rather than the other parent. Likewise, an informal agreement is open to interpretation. While people aren't always fond of legalese, the reality is that judges and attorneys talk and write the way they do because it represents an agreed-upon framework.
If you and your ex are talking about the best interests of your child, for example, it may not be clear that you both mean the same thing. When two lawyers talk about the best interests of your child, that phrase is defined by the state's laws. This gets rid of guesswork if there is a dispute.
For more information about this process, contact child custody attorneys such as Kenneth J. Molnar.