Divorces often follow a similar pattern. When children are involved, however, further measures and considerations must be taken. Additional discussions with your attorney about child custody, visitation, parenting plans, and child support should be expected.
The divorce process can also get acrimonious if parents begin to attack one another in order to acquire custody of their children. In acrimonious family court trials, character witnesses, testimonials, text messages, and social media posts are all fair game – some ex-partners will go to any length to prove the other is an unfit parent.
It’s crucial to remember that many courts will try to find a method to give parents joint custody unless there are compelling reasons not to. Above all, they will think about what is best for your child. You can have a quicker and less hurtful (to you and your children) divorce if you and your husband can work together with the same objective in mind.
The issues following may elicit strong feelings, but they will aid you in preparing for a divorce case with little children. Being as prepared as possible might assist you and your children in comprehending the adjustments that are coming.
The Process of Divorcing With Children
Here’s a quick rundown of how a divorce with children works. It’s important to note that each state has its own procedures and terminology for child custody and visitation.
1) Filing for Divorce
Your divorce will include child custody and child support (your request to start your divorce case).
2) Emergency Proclamations
If your children are in danger, you can request an emergency custody hearing and temporary protective orders from the judge.
3) Settlement Agreement for Divorce
You can include child custody problems in your divorce settlement agreement and ask the court to accept it if you decide on your own. A court will determine whether it is in your children’s best interests. You’ll have to make decisions about everything, from who your child will live with to who will make educational and healthcare decisions for them.
For custody and visitation, some states and counties compel parents to attend mediation. You and your husband will meet with a neutral mediator who will assist you in reaching an agreement on child custody, parenting plans, and visitation during mediation.
5) Hearings in Court
If mediation fails or is not necessary, and you are unable to reach an agreement on your own, your case will be heard by a judge. You will be given the opportunity to present your case. The judge may consult mental health professionals to determine what is best for your child, and a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent your child’s interests.
During your divorce, you may have several hearings. If the final custody decision takes a long time, the court will issue temporary custody and support orders that you and your husband must comply.
6) Divorce Decree/Order
Your divorce will be finalized by a court, who will issue orders for custody, parenting time/visitation, and child support.
7) Divorce Decree Appeals and Modifications
There are options for appealing a court order if you disagree with it. Similarly, if something significant happens in your life that affects custody or child support, you can petition the court to alter the order by filing a request to modify child support or child custody (with the court).
If I have children, can I get a divorce without a fight?
If you and your ex-partner agree on the following, you can achieve an uncontested divorce with children.
The physical custody split (which is usually 50/50)
Parenting time (does one parent have custody of the children on weekends or during specific holidays?)
Parental responsibilities (driving to school activities, vacations, purchasing clothing, paying for insurance or cell phones, etc.)
Who is in charge of major decisions? (schooling, healthcare, religion, etc.)
Payments for child support and a payment schedule
You must also agree on all other aspects of the divorce, such as property division and alimony.
It is difficult to get an agreement on these issues during such a trying time. To obtain an agreement, some “unofficial” conversations may be required. You can bypass arguing in court or mediation and go straight to making the plan official once you’ve both agreed on it.
Because there are so many aspects to consider when it comes to child custody, many people choose to have their divorce agreements reviewed by lawyers before submitting them to the court. Limited scope representation is what it’s called.
Can I challenge a court order if I have children?
Most judges are willing to accept child support appeals, changes in your financial condition, unsafe living situations, and requests for more or less time with your children. An attorney can advise you on the appropriate course of action to take in these situations as well as the anticipated outcome.
Because it’s difficult to forecast what life will be like after a divorce, it’s usual for parents to renegotiate child support and custody agreements as their circumstances change. When your preschooler becomes 16, wants a car, and needs car insurance, the agreement that made sense for them will most likely need to change.
Putting Your Children First During Divorce
Children are impacted by divorce, according to research. Even if you try to keep children out of the divorce proceedings, this is a big adjustment for them, and they’ll pick up on your feelings. Divorce may isolate your child from their peers or school, or it may cause them to have unfavorable feelings against one parent or the other. It may limit the amount of time and attention each parent may devote.
An expert divorce lawyer can advise you on the best methods to help your children feel secure in their new lives (such as keeping the family home) while also assuring their financial security. Your county judge’s role is to make sure that everyone is thinking about your child’s best interests.
While the change is significant, you can attempt to make the transition easier for your children while still protecting your parental rights. Here are a few things to remember:
1. When deciding custody, judges pay special attention to the children.
In a divorce involving children, the judge’s responsibility is to evaluate what is in the child’s best interests. When it comes to the following issues, the judge is likely to prioritize your child’s demands over your own:
Keeping siblings, half-siblings, step-siblings, adoptive siblings, and other family members together.
Assigning a child custody or co-parenting schedule that favors one parent over the other (most courts assume 50/50 child custody)
Choosing a larger or lower level of child support than you anticipated
If you or your ex-spouse have remarried or have other children, you should reconsider custody or financial orders.
Choosing between two homes the most stable environment
Limiting your child’s exposure to new situations (such as keeping them at the same school or home)
While it may appear that judges are siding with one side or the other, most state statutes prioritize the best interests of minor children over the interests of other family members.
2. Think about keeping your children out of court.
Addiction, cheating, criminality, fraud, domestic violence, financial troubles, and other pressures may be discussed with your children. Children who are old enough to comprehend these issues may need to speak with you before everyone goes to court.
Because the repercussions of divorce are unique to each family, the process may take longer than expected or necessitate the involvement of specialists to speak with your children.
To help lighten the process, soothe uncomfortable themes, and make the transition for children, divorcing parents may choose to try approaches like mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Note that divorces involving criminal problems (such as child abuse or a parent losing all of their assets due to fraud) almost always require the assistance of a judge.
Because most divorces are no-fault, your child will not be called to testify against one of the parents. You can, however, invite your child to speak, or a judge may ask them to testify, if it is important to the case. This is uncommon, although it could happen if there is a problem with harassment or abuse.
3. Children may be able to express their preferences for custody.
Your children will be directly involved in the procedures on occasion. This changes based on the age and health of the child. Some states enable children as young as 12 years old to choose which parent they wish to live with, and many courts will allow even young children to weigh in on custody issues. Rather than a big courtroom, this is usually done in a private meeting with the judge.
Older children may be able to express themselves, and judges in many states will take their preferences into account unless the child is in danger.
The age at which a child can provide feedback is determined by state regulations and specific judges. Consider the following scenario:
At the age of 14, California will allow children to express their preferences for who they wish to live with.
Minors in Washington are not allowed to give their opinions unless the judge specifically demands it.
Wyoming judges can take into account the wishes of minors aged 12 and up.
This also works the other way around. The courts will take into account a child’s wishes if he or she chooses to live with one parent but later refuses visitation with that parent. If the state law allows it and the youngster is capable of explaining their reasoning, they will be able to participate.
For a youngster, speaking with a judge can be frightening, but court advocates attempt to make the process as relaxing as possible and allow the child to express his or her true sentiments.
When it comes to divorce, do adult children have a say?
A child above the age of 18 does not have a legal say in your divorce, according to the law. The child’s and parent’s personal preferences will determine where you live, how much you pay for their needs, and how much time they spend with each parent.
If you have a child with special needs or who is over 18 but incapacitated, this problem becomes more challenging. You may need to arrange a guardianship agreement in those circumstances.
If your child will require assistance for the remainder of their lives, additional arrangements (such as a special needs trust) can be addressed.