Negotiating Plea Deals

5 Signs You Need A Lawyer To Formulate A Custody Agreement

by Flenn Lane

If you are going through a divorce or breakup with a partner, and the two of you have children together, you will have to agree on custody arrangements. Some couples are able to work a custody agreement out between them amicably, but other couples end up having to work with legal professionals, and perhaps the court system, to arrange custody. So, how do you know whether or not you need to hire an attorney to determine custody? Watch out for these five signs you need child custody attorney services.

1. You and your ex cannot agree on what you both want.

One day, your ex is willing to let you have the kids on weekends. The next day, they only want you to see them on Fridays. Does this sound familiar? If you and your ex are struggling to decide what you both want -- and agree to make it work -- then you should probably hire a custody lawyer, sooner rather than later. Even if you do not end up taking your case to court, the lawyer can help the two of you draft a legal document that sets forth specific terms for your shared custody. This document will be legally binding once signed, so neither of you can go back on the agreement or try to change the terms at whim.

2. You or your ex is moving out of state.

If your ex wants to move out of state, or if you yourself are planning a move, custody can become complicated. Many parents promise they will bring the children for visits once a month or every other week, but once life becomes busy, these visits stop happening -- which is not fair to the other parent or to the children. If you want to ensure your children spend time with both parents, regardless of distance, it's important to have a lawyer draft a formal custody agreement. This agreement should also specify who pays for what related to the visits. For instance, it may specify that the parent who is moving will pay for the plane tickets as a part of child support.

3. Your ex was abusive, or you suspect they have the potential to be abusive.

If your ex ever did anything to endanger the children, or if you fear that he or she might do such a thing, then you really need to express these concerns to a lawyer. The lawyer will probably recommend going to family court in this case, and a judge will help determine the best custody arrangement for your kids. Depending on the nature of the abuse, the agreement could specify that the children can only be alone with your ex for a certain period of time, or it could specify that your ex can only have the children when you are also around to supervise.

4. Your ex won't let you see the kids.

Maybe your ex just tells you that you can't see the kids, or perhaps they try to manipulate timing and the situation to make it hard for you to see the kids. If they are behaving this way early on, then you can't expect them to behave any differently in a year or two. Meet with a lawyer to draft a custody agreement so you can have confidence you'll get to see the kids in the future.

5. Your ex is remarrying.

If your ex is remarrying and you are not on the best terms with their significant other, you should probably have a custody agreement drafted. New spouses sometimes try to get in the middle of relationships between exes and their kids, and you would not want the marriage to get in the way of your custody rights.

In all, it's generally best to have a lawyer create a formal custody agreement, since you never know what the future holds.