How to Find the Best Child Custody Lawyer

Emotions are running high. There’s a custody battle looming on the horizon. You’re ready to lawyer up for your kid.

Take a breath and allow yourself a moment to feel what you’re feeling right now.

Ascertaining custody isn’t an overnight process. In this article, we provide some valuable information to help you find the best child custody lawyer for your case.

The process is to find, investigate, and interview potential representatives with these four easy steps.

Step One: Finding the Best Child Custody Lawyer

Focus on custody attorneys who are familiar with family law.

A local choice is better—your location matters, and a lawyer with domestic experience is preferable for many reasons.

Ask friends and family for their recommendations, or seek advice from court clerks at the court office. Inquire of other parents, strangers, and whoever currently has cases rolling at the child support office.

You could also peruse the referrals from the state bar association. Some states maintain a network of attorneys for release to the public.

Step Two: Investigating a Potential Child Custody Lawyer

It may seem tedious, but it’s worth doing your homework if you want the best child custody lawyer available.

Once you’ve gathered a sizeable list of options, you’ll want to investigate each candidate carefully.

  • First, check the state directory. Does the attorney have a reliable standing with the state bar? If they have a suspended license, they cannot legally practice.
  • Second, do not be afraid to ask around town. Find divorced or separated parents in smaller communities that may have used that attorney’s services. You’d be surprised how willing strangers are to share this information with you.

The research may also present names and referrals that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Step Three: Interviewing the Best Child Custody Lawyer

Interviewing a potential attorney is essential in a child custody case before you commit to their representation.

Know what you can afford before finding an attorney.

You are “shopping” for the best lawyer within your budget, as you would for any other service.

You’ll need someone you get along with and who is a good communicator. An in-person meeting is essential—you don’t want to hire someone who has no emotions vested in you or your case.

Observe the attorney’s interpersonal skills.

How well does the attorney get along with other people, both professionally and personally? Empathy, cordiality, and tact are paramount in practicing family law.

Remember, a great attorney functions as an expert communicator.

Find Similarities

Choose a lawyer who has won cases similar to yours. Ask them about the past cases they have won and consider the aspects that were similar or contrary to your own case.

How did the attorney win? How long did it take? What was the result of the custody battle?

Also, include questions about the location, country, and state, as this often comes in handy later.

The attorney may not be able to disclose some of the information regarding past cases but inquire about any ideas they currently have that can benefit your case.

Be sure to disclose all information about the special needs of the child. It may give the representative more specific information to build a strong case.

Be Clear About Financial Obligations

Inquire exactly how the attorney charges. Do they work by retainer or bill per hour? What were the costs involved in their previous cases?

Would they be willing to offer a free consultation for you to conduct an interview? If not, ask yourself how they compare to other options?

How highly recommended does this particular attorney come?

Step Four: Firing A Child Custody Attorney

A custody battle can go on for a long time. Be ready and willing to fire your attorney down the road.

If your attorney is not meeting your needs effectively, fire them. You need the best custody hearing if you’re going to be successful in your fight for your family.

Child Custody is complicated. Keep a clear head and find a great attorney to represent you in court.


How to Get Full Custody of a Child

Are you ready to commit to what could be a long and taxing battle for the full custody of a child? Most judges avoid granting full custody, so it’s a tricky topic at best.

It’s worth taking an honest look at why you want full custody.

The question to ask is, “What is best for the child?” It’s also the line of logic you need to prove your case to the courts.

Here are TEN STEPS to follow if you want to secure full custody of your child.

1. Preparation

Do you have a lawyer, stacks of organized documents, and enough evidence on-hand to support your arguments? This is the level of thorough preparation required.

Evidence of preparation equates to a caring and resourceful parent in the eyes of the court.

2. Understand Different Types of Child Custody

In the spirit of preparation, let’s define the different types of custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is the parent’s right to live with the child.

There can be sole physical custody or joint physical custody. For simplicity’s sake, physical custody means the right to stay in the same location as your child.

Legal Custody

Legal custody means exerting authority in raising your children.

Sole legal custody means that no input is required from the other parent. The doctor, school, or religion to follow is up to the parent who has been awarded legal custody.

Sole Custody

Full custody happens when joint legal and joint physical custody proves to be “bad” for the child. It usually involves a lengthy court battle, and this extreme outcome is rare.

Joint Custody

Joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or a combination of the two equates to a joint custody arrangement. It entails visitation schedules (based on housing, work, and school) related to the child’s needs.

3. Understand Family Court

There are a few matters as important to discern in family court as:

  • Paternity—establishing the identity of the child’s biological father.
  • Relationship—the quality of each parent’s relationship with the child.
  • Distance Between Parents—how far the child will have to travel to visit each parent.

4. Compose Yourself in Court

Appearances matter.

Don business-professional attire for court days and let the image carry over to your demeanor. Emotional outbursts, interruptions, or a focus on revenge will not help you convince the judge that you hold your child’s best interest at heart.

5. Prove Other Custody Arrangements are Bad for the Child

It is the crux of your argument.

Iron out a clear and succinct argument on why anything other than full custody is detrimental to your child’s well-being. You need evidence to prove your case.

6. Negligent, Unfit, or Abusive

The following factors tend to convince the court to grant full custody:

  • Domestic violence
  • Physical or Sexual Abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse
  • Incarceration
  • Abandonment
  • Relocation (Is your ex moving soon?)

7. Cooperate (appear in court) and Show Interest

Consistency is key.

Take dates and times seriously.

Always come prepared.

Don’t back down when your opponent makes a move against you.

8. Put Emotions Aside and Strive for an Agreement With Your Ex

The courts want to see that you are willing to cooperate with the other parent. It reflects that you have the child’s best interests at heart.

9. Provinces and Territories

Read about which provinces or territories are in play, in terms of residence.

The laws vary depending on your location.

10. Request an In-home Custody Evaluation

A wise pre-emptive measure is to request an in-home custody evaluation.

It shows that you are fully prepared for the process with nothing to hide.

Follow these ten tips to get full custody of a child and secure your family’s future. Remember to keep the child’s well-being at the forefront of all discussions and negotiations.

How to Get Temporary Custody of a Child

Temporary custody establishes a vital first move in achieving permanent custody.

At all stages of the custody battle, remember that judges, clerks, mediators, and courts make decisions based on the best interests of the child.

The parent awarded temporary custody typically becomes the parent that enjoys permanent care for the foreseeable future.

Who Can Get Temporary Custody of a Child?

You don’t have to be a parent to gain temporary custody of the child.

There are numerous viable options to act as a temporary custodian—immediate family, extended family, grandparents, and godparents are all common temporary guardians.

Trusted friends and neighbors are an option, as well. It’s best to choose someone with whom both parents have a solid relationship, as trust is paramount.

Why Should You Seek Temporary Custody of a Child?

There are a few viable situations where good reasons for temporary custody win the case.

If you provide enough reason to be awarded temporary custody of a child, you benefit in many ways from continued proceedings. The early stages of separating or filing for divorce can provide enough reason to establish a temporary custodian, for example.

Another effective way to sway the court is to remove the child from an abusive, negligent, or unfit parent situation.

Information to Include for Temporary Custody of a Child

Do not expect the courts or an attorney to make plans for you or your child.

The more firmly you take the reins, the better. You will want to iron out the specifics and have it all in writing.

You’ll want to cover the entire period for temporary custody, detailing the beginning and end dates of custody, for example.

Include specific locations (addresses, cities, and states) and visitation rights—the more detail, the better.

Who is allowed to see the child? When? Under what conditions?

Financial arrangements are also valuable. Is money changing hands? How much and from whom?

Lastly, providing general information about the child’s needs is always useful, like unique medical needs or important upcoming events.

Steps to Achieving Temporary Custody of a Child

Here’s what the court process looks like in FIVE STEPS—from applying for temporary custody to achieving permanent custody.

Step 1: Seek Counsel

Laws vary by state, so seek counsel with a qualified family lawyer who practices in the area.

Step 2: File a Petition

Formally request temporary custody by filing in a petition.

It goes to your county clerk’s office. Here, you’ll provide a sound case (as reviewed by a qualified attorney) as to why you should be awarded temporary custody.

If you are not the biological parent of the child, know that the parents will receive a copy of your filed petition.

Step 3: Plan to Follow Through

Throughout the process, stay on top of all your paperwork.

Attend every hearing and stage of the process without fail.

Step 4: Temporary Custody Hearing

Once filed, there will come a custody hearing.

Attend the date, time, and place as notified by the court. Dress business-professional and stay composed and collected.

You must make a good impression as a responsible parent who is acting solely in the best interest of the child.

Make your case before the judge for why you need to be granted temporary custody. Any mention of abuse or neglect must be backed by sound evidence. Without proof of your claims, true or not, it carries no weight in court.

Step 5. Verdict and Permanent Custody

Once you’ve made your argument, exercise patience. The judge will make his decision at the end of the trial.  A future hearing will determine permanent custody.

Temporary Custody is a significant first step in the process for permanent guardianship. Be prepared and remain calm throughout the proceedings.

How Is Child Custody Determined?

The question you should be asking is, “What is in the child’s best interests?”

It has to do with happiness, security, and the parent who can provide the most promising future. It will depend on whatever the judge thinks is best, though.

As frustrating as that may sound, it provides a vital starting point for some of the most important discussions and decisions of your life.

You may attempt to reverse engineer the process. It is an emotional time for parents, but volatile thoughts are best put aside to focus on the well-being of the child.

Below, our experts discuss other critical factors in the child custody issue that might shed some light on the process.

Joint Custody Vs. Sole Custody

Most courts are in favor of joint custody, which means a discussion on visitation rights.

Sole or full custody is far more challenging for a parent to achieve.

Legal and physical custody define what we mean as well.

  • Legal custody refers to decision-making power over the child—schools and other primary considerations.
  • Physical custody refers to which parent (usually both) can share a living space with the child.

There may be joint legal custody and sole physical custody for the judge to decide, and this outcome will depend on the best interests of the child.

Key Factors to Determine Custody of a Child

The person awarded custody is known as the “primary custodial parent.”

Usually, parents share custody, but there will be only one primary custodial parent in the arrangement.

It is the person who spends the most time with the child and is most involved in their daily lives. The criteria include being responsible for taking the child to and from school, providing meals, and choosing a home.


  1. The wishes of the child and each of the parents
  2. The age of the child and each parent
  3. The distance between each parents’ homes
  4. Which parent resides in the home of origin (where the child was raised)
  5. The work schedule of each parent
  6. The lifestyles of each parent
  7. The ability to provide necessities, such as clothing, food, and shelter
  8. The ability to provide a stable and loving environment
  9. The developmental and emotional needs of the child
  10. The history and quality of the relationship of the child with each parent
  11. How willing and able the parent is to communicate with the other person on child-related issues
  12. How mentally and physically fit the parent is to care for the child
  13. Evidence of physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence between parents, addiction, or neglectful behavior
  14. Criminal activity on the part of either parent
  15. Any other questionable behavior that suggests why a parent may not be the best choice for the primary custodian.

The points above outline an idea of the “best interests of the child” in the eyes of the court.

A family lawyer in your area familiar with similar cases, and the local judges, can better pinpoint a definition for your unique situation.

How the Parent Decides Custody

The decision is primarily determined by the actions of the parents.

The one who seeks counsel, attends all the hearings, files and completes all necessary paperwork, and maintains a professional and collected demeanor has the upper hand in achieving custody.

How Child Custody Is Determined in Non-Divorce Cases

In some states, the unmarried biological mother of the child retains primary custody regardless of the situation.

Judges are still inclined to award a form of joint custody if they see it as beneficial for the child. It presents a more complicated ruling for the judges if the couple is unmarried, though.

Child custody is never a straightforward issue, so seek expert advice and remember to focus on the best interests of the child.