Child Custody FAQ

I'm about to be divorced, and I'm seeking custody of my child. What options do I have? What custody category do I fall into?

We will need to discuss your situation at greater length. If your goal is sole legal custody, that puts you in the decision-making role for the child, I will need to know that. Joint custody may work for you in certain circumstances. You should know exactly what you want in custody matters, and how to describe it, so your attorney can advocate for you effectively.

If the spouse I'm divorcing fights me for custody, where does that leave us?

That would leave you in a position for a court to decide your future, rather than the two of you. Of course it is best if parents can come to an agreement regarding custody, but if you cannot, you need an experienced attorney who is not afraid of the courtroom to represent your interests.

If this dispute winds up in court, is my child supposed to be there? I'm hesitant to expose him to anything that could result in a negative emotional impact.

No, the child typically will not appear in court. However, the court may conduct an "in camera" or meeting in chambers with a child in a contested custody case. This is typically done after the trial and the parents and their attorneys are not present. The AFC or attorney that represents the child will be present.

How would my situation be different if a separation agreement had been in place?

A separation agreement with points of agreement already established is always an asset toward resolving disputes efficiently. This documentation can provide a foundation for amicable conclusions to future discussions.

How can an attorney help me with my custody goals? Wouldn't it be wiser and more economical for me to represent myself?

Entering a conference room with a soon-to-be former spouse's representative, or a courtroom full of strangers, would put you at a disadvantage. An attorney knows the setting, rules, procedures and the judge, most likely. Legal representation is always a wise investment in such important matters.

What happens when a noncustodial parent ignores visitation responsibilities?

Your lawyer can petition the court for what's called an "enforcement," which compels the co-parent to live up to those obligations or face severe consequences.

If I need to look for a job out of state, can I take my child with me?

You seem to be contemplating a parental relocation. Relocation is a complex matter and before you make any moves, you should consult an attorney.

How are custody and visitation rights determined for unmarried parents who have separated?

Before custody and visitation rights are established for unmarried people, paternity must be established in court by an acknolwdgement of paternity or through DNA testing. After paternity is established, if the parties are unable to agree, the court will determine the custody and visitation schedule based on a multitude of factors to establish the best interests of the child.

How do I go about finding out what you can do for me, regarding custody, with you as my lawyer?

You should schedule an initial consultation at my law office, that can be arranged by phone or email. Please contact me from wherever you are in the greater Buffalo metro or Niagara region. We will discuss your legal issues at length, candidly and confidentially, so you can have peace of mind that an effective course of action has been charted.