The Child Custody Process Explained

One of the pressing issues that need to be addressed in a divorce case is child custody. In situations like this, the best interest of the child becomes the deciding factor. Whether single or joint custody, it is up to the court to decide. Although the parents themselves can work it out, many partners opt to resolve the issue in court. There are many other underlying issues that go with child custody.

The process of child custody can be long and difficult. It starts with the filing of the petition. In the petition, the parent who is seeking custody should explain why they should be granted custody of their child. If there had already been a previous decision, the petitioner must justify the need to re-open the case. The petition must indicate the substantial changes in circumstances that happened after the handing down of the previous decision.

Once the petition has been filed, a waiting period of approximately 3 to 4 weeks follows before the date for the first hearing is set. During this period, the lawyers of both parties will make an appearance in the Family Court. There are no testimonies just yet so both parents must wait for the first hearing before they can speak. It is during the hearing when witnesses testify and evidence presented.

Aside from the attorneys of the parents, the court will also provide the kids with their own attorney which is called “law guardian.” They will represent the child in court until a decision has been handed down. If the child they represent is above 14 years old, their job is limited to representing what the child wants. The law guardian is important in a child custody petition since they can serve as an impartial advisor to the court where the case is being handled.

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