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What is a Child Custody Lawyer?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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A child custody lawyer is a family law attorney who specializes in helping his clients negotiate cases involving their children. Often, child custody lawyers are called on to create and negotiate agreements between divorcing, divorced, or separated parents, helping them to decide where their children will live and how visitation will be handled. However, they are also called on to handle cases between parents who have never been married to each other.

Child custody is the term used to describe the care and custody of a child. No matter what the childcare arrangements were during the course of a marriage or other relationship, disputes over custody often arise when parents decide to split. Sometimes they can come to an agreement on their own, outlining when and where their children will spend time with each parent, but in many cases, a child custody lawyer is needed to help hammer out the details.

A child custody lawyer represents his client in deciding who will have physical custody of the child; this means with whom the child will live. There are different kinds of physical custody arrangements, including sole, in which one parent has physical custody, and shared, in which each parent has physical custody for part of the time. Shared physical custody can be 50/50 or just about any other type of sharing. Legal custody encompasses a parent's right to make decisions for a child, such as those related to the child's upbringing, medical care, and education.

A child custody lawyer can also help parents in negotiating visitation. For example, a child may live with one parent most of the time and visit the other parent every other weekend. This is one of the typical visitation arrangements. However, parents do not have to stick to this type of arrangement. With the help of their child custody lawyers, they can create a visitation agreement that suits their unique needs and those of their children.

All too often, parent are unable to come up with an agreement that satisfies both parties, even with the help of child custody lawyers. When this happens, they may turn to mediators to help them come up with an agreement, or they may decide to go into court and let a judge decide. In such a case, a child custody lawyer helps his client build a case that demonstrates why his client's plan for child custody and visitation is best for the involved children. When the time comes, the child custody lawyer argues his client's case in court and attempts to persuade the judge to rule in his client's favor.

A child custody lawyer may also help his client negotiate an agreement or win a case involving child support. Child support is money paid by one parent to another parent in order to help meet the expenses involved in raising and caring for a child. For example, child support money may go towards such things as food, clothing, and shelter for the involved children.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon105872 — On Aug 23, 2010

i suggest you reconcile with your husband. in other words, make peace with him.

By anon104647 — On Aug 17, 2010

I have the primary residence for both my boys since their dad left three years ago where he only started to pay a couple months ago but still refused to appear to court to finalize the custody and arrears he has to pay.

I have to change provinces next week and the 2007 court order was that neither parent is to remove the kids from the NB jurisdiction without the written consent or the judge to reconsider the matter. My ex is using or playing the system refusing to cooperate. Very frustrating situation as my kids are suffering the most.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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