I am getting ready to fight for custody of my two children and was wondering what I should expect from this process?
I do not practice law in your state and therefore cannot provide you with specific information or procedures. However, I can offer you some insight to your situation to be discussed with a family law processional whom practices in your jurisdiction.
If your state’s laws are similar to Pennsylvania, there are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody.
The physical custody is the actual location of the children. Legal custody is who has the right to make decisions about education, religion, and medical matters. The physical custody schedule does not affect a parent’s right to make decisions pertaining to the children. In most jurisdictions, physical custody and legal custody are specifically addressed in the order of court.
States vary in the requirements for custody, but if your state’s laws are similar to Pennsylvania’s laws, I assume that the court will conduct a best interest of the children analysis to determine the custody schedule.
Each state has its own statute setting forth the factors that the court considers when determining what is in the best interest of the child. Typically, the statute includes the consideration of conviction of specific offenses, including aggravated sexual assault.
The determination may also be dependent on the several factors including the ages of the children, children’s preferences, the parties’ ability to co-parent, and the distances of the parents’ residences. You or a state-licensed attorney should review your state’s statute for the factors that are considered.
If you have not initiated a custody action, the first step is typically filing for custody in your jurisdiction. You should look at your county website or go to the courthouse for tips on how to start the custody process.
You may also be able to request interim relief via presentation of a motion to the judge. If there is already a custody order but there is a provision in your custody order you want to modify, you would likely have to file a request to modify the custody order. The court can add provisions into an order or modify a provision in an order if deemed appropriate. The court may require a hearing if there is a dispute if the terms should be modified.
I cannot provide you legal advice so please consult an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.