What are some pros and cons of starting a custody case?
There are many reasons people choose not to file for custody. Some people decide not to get a custody order because they don’t want to get the courts involved. Some parents make an informal agreement that works well for them. Some parents think going to court will provoke the other parent, or they are worried that if a custody case is started, the other parent will suddenly fight for more custody or visitation rights than they had before. In some situations, some mothers may not need to file for custody if the father’s paternity has not been legally established.
However, getting a custody order from a court can give you certain legal rights. Getting a custody order can give you:
- The right to make decisions about your child and/or
- The right to residency (to have your child live with you).
Without a custody order, it is possible that you may not have these legal rights, even if you’re the parent that takes care of the child every day. If an abuser takes the children, and you do not have a custody order, law enforcement will not be able to return the children to you. However, if you file for custody, the other parent may also request these rights and it will be up to the judge to decide.
We strongly recommend talking to a lawyer who can help you think through if filing for custody would be best for you, depending on the facts of your situation. You can find legal help by clicking on the Finding a Lawyer page.
Some people think they should file for custody so they can get child support. While custody and child support are related, you do not necessarily need a custody order to get child support. A custody order will not automatically give you child support. For information on filing for child support, you can contact your local courthouse by going to our Courthouse Locations page or talk to a lawyer.