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How Long Do Child Custody Matters Generally Take To Be Settled?


If we settle a case which means that we have an agreement between the parents, we can resolve those very quickly. If the parents know that they want to share joint physical and joint legal custody or if the parents know that the mother or the father has been the primary caregiver in there is not a dispute regarding custody, we can settle a case in as short as 60 or 90 days. If we don’t settle a case, that’s where the real delay comes in because the court’s time is precious, there isn’t that much availability and we generally are about a year before we can get a trial date to have a contested child custody case heard by the court. So easy cases are those that we settle in 60 to 90 days, litigated custody cases are upwards of a year.

When Is A Guardian Ad Litem Or Custody Evaluator Used In A Custody Case?

A custody evaluator is ordinarily a clinical psychologist that is hired by one or both of the attorneys representing their respective clients. They will do an evaluation and determine which of the two parents is best suited to have the custody of a child. Guardian ad litem is a little bit different in that a guardian ad litem is ordinarily appointed by the clerk to look out for the best interests of the children. We see about an equal amount of guardian ad litems as we do child custody evaluators. I would say they are not the new one. We probably use them in 10% to 20% of the cases and they are used when there is a contested custody case and the parties can’t agree on which of the two parents is better suited to have custody or if one of the parties wants joint custody and the other one doesn’t want that, we get a guardian ad litem involved to do an investigation or we hire a custody evaluator to determine what’s best and make a recommendation to the court.

So in both of those circumstances, a guardian ad litem and a child custody evaluator would ultimately make a recommendation to the court although the court is not obligated to follow that recommendation, they oftentimes will since they put a lot of time in as a guardian ad litem or an evaluator to provide valuable information to the court.

What Can I Do To Improve My Chances Of Winning My Custody Case?

To improve your chances of winning in a custody case is being an active, involved parent. We assume if a parent is pursuing custody of a child or children that the parent has been active or has been involved. That means involved in the education of a child, involved in the medical decisions and treatment, involved in any religious training if the family has a religious preference and is involved in religion and involved I the child’s extracurricular activities. So my advice is to stay involved and be an active parent with your child or children. It also would include not having any domestic violence issues that you are being associated with, not using any illegal drugs, not abusing alcohol and just being a good person, having a good attitude and being actively involved with your child will help your chances of succeeding in a custody case and again that could be pursuing sole custody of a child or just to enhance one’s chances of having joint custody of a child.

Under What Circumstances Can I Petition To Modify A Custody Order?

You can modify a custody order any time there is a material change of circumstances. That’s the standard that our court in Nebraska uses. In a material change of circumstances something that was not known by the party that wants to modify the custody order at the time the original order was put into place or that could not have been known by that parent. So if the parent knew that something was going to happen a year or two down the road, the parent should have addressed that issue with the court at the time of the original custody determination. But a material change of circumstances is something that wasn’t known at the time of the original order or that could not have been known. That is what opens up the courthouse doors and allows the parent to come back into court and ask a judge to consider modifying previous custody orders.

The standard is always when you have a material change what is in the best interests of a child. Ultimately that’s for a court to decide if there has been that change and if it’s in the best interests of a child to change or modify custody.

Why Is It Critical To Seek Experienced Legal Counsel In A Custody Matter?

If you have a contested custody case, you should hire an attorney and certainly one that is experienced to help you maneuver through the minefield that is a family law custody case. We here at Vacanti & Shattuck, we’ve done thousands. Between my partner Kelly Shatttuck and I, we’ve probably done 7000 to 8000 divorce and custody cases and so we are experts in this field. We know the law, we know the judges, we know the system, we know how to maneuver through and be as efficient as we can to have the most success that is possible. To try and do a custody case on your own is only looking for a disaster. So we would highly recommend that people pursuing a custody case would contact a very experienced, qualified domestic relations or family law lawyer and we would be happy to help anyone that is in need.

For more information on Settlement Of Child Custody Matters, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (402) 235-6070 today.

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