You may have reasons for not wanting to involve a lawyer in your custody case. Understanding that you and your former partner will be co-parenting for many years to come, it makes sense to keep your relationship as non-confrontational as possible. Once attorneys enter the picture, the dynamic of the dispute may change.
On the other hand, whenever your rights are in jeopardy, you want to know you have the options of seeking the counsel of a professional who has the experience and knowledge to fight for your cause. A child custody battle can easily be one of those times. While many parents successfully reach parenting agreements that function well into the child's teens, your situation may require the assistance of a skillful advocate.
When is it a risk to handle matters on my own?
Custody disputes are delicate matters. Too often, their resolutions hinge on very personal factors. A negative outcome can damage the parent-child relationship indefinitely, and this can also place the child at risk of emotional trauma. While it may seem less contentious to deal with the battle on your own, you may be outmatched in any of these situations:
- If your ex-partner has already hired an attorney, you can expect them to take advantage of your lack of legal counsel.
- If your former partner may have seemed cooperative at first but is suddenly challenging your fitness as a parent or threatening to seek full custody, a lawyer can protect your rights.
- If you live in a different state from the child's other parent or if you have plans to move out of New Jersey in the future, an attorney can advocate for your cause.
- If your co-parent is already making moves to alienate you or keep you from the child, you would be wise to obtain legal support quickly.
- If there is any threat of danger to your children, for example substance abuse, violence or unsavory acquaintances of your former partner, an attorney can provide resources for their protection.
- If you or your former partner have a new romantic interest or are planning to marry soon, a custody attorney can guide you through the legal repercussions.
It is possible that the complexion of your case has changed if your former partner has already made accusations against you to the court. If these accusations prompted the court to order you to enter parenting classes, anger management therapy or substance abuse treatment, you may already be at a serious disadvantage in your custody bid. However, even if things are not this desperate, you can still benefit from the experienced representation of an attorney who has handled many custody cases with similar circumstances.