Today we will be discussing a potentially sensitive and emotional topic: the divorce process when underage children are involved. As previously mentioned, Family law can be a sensitive topic for some because it involves marriage and children. All divorces generally follow the same process, however when children are involved, there are extra steps and considerations to consider. Being as prepared as possible can help you and your children understand the changes ahead. You should anticipate making adequate preparations with your attorney which will address issues relating to child custody, visitation, parenting plans, and child support.
Below is an overview of how the divorce process works involving underaged children. Please note that each state has different processes and uses different terminology for child custody and visitation. You can access New York state’s child custody and visitation here.
- Child custody and child support will be part of your initial divorce filing (the court process which starts your divorce).
- If your child(ren) is placed in harm’s way willfully or through negligence, you can ask the judge for an emergency custody hearing and temporary orders to protect them.
Divorce Settlement Agreement.
- Any pursuits concerning child custody must be included as part of the divorce settlement agreement to be approved by the courts. A judge will determine what is in the best interests of the child(ren) and make a determination ranging from who the child(ren) will live with, who will make decisions regarding schooling, healthcare and any conditions regarding out-of-state or international travel arrangements.
- Some states and counties require parents to attend mediation in order to establish custody and visitation. During mediation, both parties will meet with a neutral mediator who will help you reach an agreement on child custody/parenting plans/visitation.
- If mediation is optional or unsuccessful and the parties are unable to reach an agreement, then the case will go before a judge who will hear both parties. The judge may ask mental health experts to advise on what is best long-term course for the child(ren) and may even appoint a guardian to represent the child’s interests.
- You may have numerous hearings before the divorce is finalized. Depending on the circumstances some time may be needed before the judge can render a final custody decision. The court provide instructions for temporary custody and support orders that both will need to follow.
- The judge will make a final decision on your divorce, including orders for custody, parenting time/visitation, and child support.
Appeals and Changes to the Divorce Decree.
- If you disagree with the court’s decision, there are ways to appeal. Similarly, if anything substantial changes in your life that will affect custody or child support, you can ask the court to change the order by filing a motion to modify child support or custody.
Research shows that the divorce process can affect children. A divorce can impact their quality of life, including separation from their friends or school, cause them to think negatively about one parent or the other. It will also reduce the time and attention each parent can provide. An experienced divorce lawyer like The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux can provide services in helping you navigate the process and changes. It is possible to work toward a smoother transition for your children and still protect your legal rights as a parent. This is The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux, and we will gladly work with you and are committed to helping you find the best and most effective solutions.