What to Expect in a Child Custody Case

One of the most frightening things a parent can go through is a challenging child custody case. A custody case presents a whole host of emotions. Emotions arising from the cost, the emotional turmoil, the unknown factors and the potential for so much loss. That’s why it’s important to understand what to expect. The last thing a parent should have to face is the challenge of the legal process. Here is a brief outline of what you can expect when going through a child custody case.

1. Initial Pleading: This is the motion or pleading that begins the process. Maybe you are the one filing or maybe the other parent is filing. Whether you are filing or the other parent is filing understand that the process of pleading (the act by which a party files a motion asking the court for some sort of action), is important but not the end all of everything. This part of the case gives the parties a chance to explain to the judge why you are asking for help from the court, what you are asking for and the facts that you think are important to help the judge make a decision. While judges do read the pleadings, keep in mind that these are just allegations. Usually some nasty things are said in pleadings but don’t be concerned. Remember the things that are said at this stage are just allegations. Whether true or not you will have your “day in court” to address the allegations.

2. Discovery: Another big stage of the case occurs during discovery. While all cases include a discovery period, custody cases present some unique factors. The biggest and most common occurrence in a custody case during discovery is the appointment of some sort of expert. The Court may appoint a custody evaluator (also known as a 11-706 expert-named after the specific provision of the rules of evidence) or a guardian ad litem (an attorney appointed to represent the interests of the child). Most of the highly contentious cases involve the appointment of a custody expert. The custody expert will interview, test and talk with the relevant parties and third party witnesses. There are procedures an expert is supposed to follow and specific rules of law that pertain to experts. This stage of the case is one of the most complicated and legally challenging areas associated with custody cases and provide a whole host of opportunities where your case can be won or lost.

3. Trial: Undergoing a custody trial is very draining emotionally. This is the culmination of the custody fight. All of the build up, evidence development and such comes together at this stage. The problem with trial is that you are usually limited in time by the court. Thus, many people get frustrated during trial because they want the whole story to come out. In reality the court will limit both sides in their presentation of the case. This means that the attorney must pick and choose the most important aspects of the case to present. That is why you need to make sure you have a cohesive strategy for trial.

These three points of a custody case are not exhaustive, but are the big time points that most people find very challenging. If you need more information about custody issues contact one of our child custody experts by emailing us at info@JusticeLegalGroup.com or call us at 505-880-8737. We offer an interactive custody app that gives you an idea of what to expect in terms of time and cost associated with a custody case. Reach out to us to learn more!