Disagreements over custody of your children can be frightening, frustrating, and, most often, costly. Therefore, be willing to pick and choose your battles. Resist the natural tendency to confuse the relationship you may have with your soon-to-be former spouse with the relationship he or she may have with the children. No other issue engenders so much emotion. You need to lean on and trust your lawyer, who should act as an objective sounding board who is willing to bring you back to realty should your expectations become unrealistic or vexatious. Whenever children are involved in a divorce or post-divorce action, it is important for the client to know that the trial court, and not the parents, will ultimately determine what is in the best interests of children. As a parent, that can be a difficult concept to stomach, and it should demonstrate just how much power the trial court has the authority to wield. Take comfort in knowing that while we are optimistic that your matter pertaining to your children will be resolved in a negotiated settlement, we practice pessimistically from day one by completing what is necessary in order to successfully litigate your case at trial.
In order to ensure that you have thoughtfully considered the pertinent issues that may be in the children’s best interests, below are some topics of discussion that you need to have with your lawyer while either negotiating a settlement agreement with the opposing parent or preparing for trial:
- What are the legal vs. physical components of any custodial arrangement?
- What are the two custodial arrangements: (Sole custody vs. Joint custody)?
- Which custodial arrangement should I pursue?
- What factors will the trial court use in determining custody?
- What do I need to be doing in order to prepare my request for custody?
- What witnesses, if any, should I be prepared to have to bolster my case?
- What is a parenting coordinator?
- Do the children need their own attorney and under what circumstances will one be appointed?
- Can my mental and physical medical records be obtained?
- Can the children testify where they desire to live?
- How does marital misconduct effect custody considerations?
- How do I change the existing custody arrangement within my divorce decree?
- How can a parent’s relocation affect custody?
- How does the trial court determine what visitation may be appropriate?
- What are the various types of visitation awards that may be considered?
- Can visitation be restricted or suspended?
- Once established by court order, how can visitation be modified?
- Can my spouse be punished for violating the visitation provisions?
- What if my child doesn’t want to go visit?
Child Support Considerations:
- How is child support calculated in my case?
- Is overtime used in calculating child support?
- How is my income determined if I own my own business?
- How is the amount of health insurance I pay considered?
- How are work-related child care expenses considered?
- How are extracurricular expenses or private school tuition considered?
- Under what circumstances can we deviate from the amount specified under the Child Support Guidelines?
- How is child support determined if we make $20,000 or more a month?
- How will I receive child support?
- Is child support taxable as income?
- Who gets to claim the children on taxes?
- How can child support be modified?
- What if my former spouse fails to pay child support as ordered?
Other Child-Related Issues to Discuss:
- Should life insurance be maintained for the benefit of the children?
- How are non-covered medical, dental, and orthodontic expenses handled?
- What if my child has physical and/or mental disabilities and extraordinary expenses?
- How are college expenses considered, if at all?
At Boyd, Fernambucq & Dunn, P.C. our experienced litigators are prepared to answer each of these important questions for you. Recognizing that your children are your most valuable asset, we strive to minimize the lasting detrimental that divorce and litigation can often cause, and we attempt to negotiate and structure custody and visitation agreements that are tailored to each family’s individual circumstances. However, when the need arises, we stand ready to litigate.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with any of our lawyers to discuss any custody, visitation or child support matter, or the possibility of an appeal which involves any of these issues, please contact the particular lawyer’s assistant with whom you would like to schedule an appointment by obtaining their email address here, or by locating this information under the particular lawyer’s attorney profile.