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Child custody should never be a verbal agreement

Parents in California who are considering divorce may believe that they can come to agreements and work out a settlement rather than litigate their divorce in court; however, they are only partially right. Without the support and guidance of their respective attorneys, couples may wind up in costly litigation, particularly when child custody is only a verbal agreement. Either party could potentially disregard any agreement that is not authorized by the court in years to come, even if it is an uncontested divorce.

As an example, take a mother who trusted her husband to handle the divorce because they had agreed on child custody and all other issues. He then filed for an uncontested divorce, somehow managing not to get a court-ordered custody ruling. Their child was still young, and the father seemed more interested in his new wife than his child. He relocated and made a new home with the new love of his life. However, the mother was concerned that her son would never know his father who now lived 2,000 miles away, and she sent him to visit for six weeks in the summer.

When the time came for the son to be returned, the mother instead received papers from a court in the ex-husband's state, suing for child custody. She learned that his new wife had convinced him to do this to avoid having to pay child support. With the case filed in the father's state, the mother had to miss work and spend thousands of dollars on flights and legal fees during a time that she had to be present for one hearing after another. Financial instability followed, and she ultimately lost custody of the child because she no longer had the means to support him.

Had this mother secured the services of an experienced divorce attorney from before they even filed for a divorce, the lawyer could have ensured that their divorce settlement was fair and legally binding. Also, a lawyer could have explained that the mother had the right to have the child custody case moved to California. If that were done, she would have been able to avoid all those traveling and accommodation expenses, and she may have obtained a far different outcome for her case.

Source: Huffington Post, "Two Big Child Custody Mistakes To Avoid", Bob Jeffries, Accessed on Oct. 6, 2017

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