You’ve been Sued for Custody, Now What?

When you receive notice that your child’s other parent has sued you for custody of your child, there are many things that will go through your mind.  Why are they doing this?  The things they allege about me aren’t true and will they be able to take my child away and leave me with no visitation?  These are all important concerns but the first thing you might wonder is “what happens next?”   

Generally, the next thing to occur in your custody case is a custody conference before a custody “master”.  A custody master is not a judge but rather an employee of the County where the proceedings are taking place who is experience in custody matters.  Although they do not have the full authority of a judge they do have significant sway over your custody matter.  The master’s main purpose at your custody conference is to serve as a mediator in an attempt to get the parties to agree to a custody schedule without the Court having to impose its will on the parties.  If the parties cannot agree on a custody schedule the master does have the authority to enter an interim order.  Masters are reluctant to do so however and typically urge the parties to come to a resolution on their own.  

If the parties cannot agree on a custody schedule they can then ask the Court to schedule a hearing before an actual judge who will hear the case on its merits and issue a custody Order.  Assuming it is reasonably acceptable to the parties it is almost always preferable to agree to a custody schedule during the custody conference.  Proceeding to a custody hearing before a judge is time consuming, can be very costly depending on the issues and could result in one parent receiving significantly less custody than they might have received had they come to an agreement.

If you have a question regarding your custody matter, contact me today for a free no obligation case evaluation