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Do I Really Need a Lawyer for Child Custody Issues?

Another top 10 question that gets asked by divorcing parents. The answer is yes.

I see many Fathers who come in years after the fact who didn’t have an attorney during the initial custody phase of their case. These Fathers didn’t seek out an attorney and just signed the paperwork hoping for the best. I have to tell them that I can’t undo what they previously agreed to. While custody is always modifiable you must show a substantial and continuing change in circumstances in order to change the custody schedule. Depending on what you agreed to this may prevent you from ever having joint physical custody of your child. Had you gotten an attorney the first time this mistake could have been prevented. You forever altered your relationship with your child in a negative way because you failed to get an attorney. The idea of hoping for the best did not work out for you.

I also meet with clients who signed agreements that are simply unfair and not in their child’s best interests. I have seen clauses that allow one parent to move without notice to the other parent. Extremely high child support orders that one parent pays because they feel guilty. Agreements that say if one parent takes the other back to court then he or she pays all of the attorney’s fees. I have seen visitation that is contingent upon one parent paying child support. These are all clauses that should not be in your parenting agreement but unless you have met with an attorney you don’t know that.

To summarize, at a minimum you need an attorney to review any paperwork drafted by the other party’s attorney. You may not hire the attorney to do anything other than review the paperwork but at a minimum it is both foolish and careless on your part not to have consulted with an attorney when it comes to signing paperwork involving the most important person in your life—your child.