Child custody laws are federal and state laws that govern a parent’s authority to make decisions about the children and maintain physical control of the children. They also include visitation rights of the non-custodial parent.
These laws exist to help provide structure in the relationships between children and divorced parents. The best thing parents can do is agree when it comes to the children and share custody. But when the parents cannot get along, they tend to put the children in the middle of all of it. That is another reason why there are custody laws. Child custody laws can also apply to unmarried parents, when they are claiming a biological relationship to the child, or when the grandparents question the competency of the parents. In some cases the custody is given to people that are not related to the children, i.e. foster parents.
Child custody battles are complicated because of the different state and federal laws on sensitive issue. It would be so much easier if we had national child custody laws that applied in every state. Then everyone involved in a custody battle would have access to information that applied to them no matter where they lived.
Understanding Divorce Law
There are so many websites that offer you an easy divorce if you decide to handle it yourself and download their state-tailored documents. In a significant number of cases, the procedure is as easy as they promise, especially if the couple has few assets and the dissolution agreements are relatively straightforward. And yet you can still encounter some surprising and potentially costly difficulties if you decide to forego an attorney, especially if you don’t have a thorough knowledge of the divorce law in your state.
Some of the problems you might come across will have less to do with the law than with fundamental mistakes, but the court might not make that distinction, or make allowances for your non-professional status. Many courts are required to treat you the same way they’d deal with a professional attorney, and make the assumption that you know the same laws they do.
So what’s the upshot if you make an error in your documents, or aren’t informed about all the papers you’re required to file and therefore miss a deadline, or if you don’t handle the issues in a way that sets the judge’s mind at ease? You might wind up with a detrimental ruling, or the judge could demand that you find an attorney after all.
Divorce and property issues are likely to cause the most complications, however, even if you and your spouse are agreed on how things will be divided. You may have worked out how you’ll sell the family home and divide the proceeds, for example, and not realize that the IRS could take a large chunk of the earnings you expected to be available for future expenses. This is the sort of divorce law you might not discover until too late, whereas an attorney trained in these matters might have explained it to you.
The more complicated your property or custody arrangements are, the more divorce law you will need to understand to be sure you’re handling the proceedings correctly. At some point, things may get so complex that you will recognize you can’t continue through the divorce process without the help of a lawyer. But whether your situation is simple or very involved, if you’re going to try to accomplish your divorce without legal help, then you will need to do thorough research to avoid unexpected problems.