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What can I expect when going to court over child custody?

Going to court for custody issues can seem a bit intimidating. Not knowing how the process works or what to expect can, understandably, be somewhat frightening. Fortunately, no one has to face court proceedings alone. Parents in Massachusetts and elsewhere can seek assistance when dealing with child custody issues.

When it comes to child custody cases, every family is different, so court proceedings may vary based on individual needs. There are a few things, however, that are generally the same. For instance, if an agreement is made outside of court, a judge will review the agreement and decide whether it is acceptable or needs adjustment. If no changes are required, the court may sign off on the agreement and issue an official custody order.

If agreements are not made, or issues are found with an existing plan, a judge may order parents to attend mediation to further discuss custody issues. The court does have the ability to create its own custody plans in cases where parents are unable to come to agreeable terms. When this happens, a trial is often held, which may consist of a varying number of hearings. Each parent may be asked to submit individual custody plans, and the judge will, ultimately, get to decide what to and not to include.

When going into child custody court proceedings, it is best to go in prepared. Massachusetts parents who can agree on custody arrangements beforehand may find that these proceedings can be concluded fairly quickly. Those who cannot, though, may find that they can be a little more trying. Legal help is available to assist parents in creating and achieving custody arrangements that work best for them and are in the best interests of their children. While this can take time, it is possible.

Source: womenslaw.org, "Know the Laws: Massachusetts: Custody -- What will the court custody process look like?", Accessed on Nov. 3, 2015

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