7 Signs You Need to Hire a Child Custody Lawyer

Situations When Representing Yourself Would Not Be Wise

Are you struggling to decide whether you really need to hire a child custody lawyer? While representing yourself pro se is always an option, there are definitely times when grit and determination just aren’t enough. Here are 7 such scenarios, when you really should think twice about heading into the courtroom without hiring an experienced child custody lawyer. 

7 Signs You Need to Hire a Child Custody Lawyer

  • 01 of 07

    Your ex has one.

    Child custody lawyer with piles of legal files
    Know when you need to hire a child custody lawyer. Photo © Rich Legg/Getty Images

    If you already know your ex is working with a private child custody attorney, then it’s time for you to consider hiring a child custody lawyer, as well. If money is an issue, look for free legal aid in your area. The last thing you want is to feel as though your case didn’t turn out the way you wanted because your ex hired a lawyer and you did not. 

  • 02 of 07

    Your case has become more complicated.

    Sometimes you start out with a pretty simple case that becomes increasingly complicated as you go along. For example, say you learn that your ex has changed her mind about sharing custody, or you suspect that he’s going to try to convince the court that you’re unfit to have the kids overnight. These complications would indicate that it’s time to hire a child custody lawyer. 

  • 03 of 07

    Your case crosses jurisdictions.

    If you and your ex live in different states, or even different countries, then you should consider getting a lawyer to represent you. You should still do all you can to learn about the child custody laws impacting your case, especially if it’s international, but seeking counsel is generally recommended for any inter-jurisdictional cases.  

  • 04 of 07

    You believe your children are in danger.

    This is a situation that always demands qualified legal representation. The costs of losing your child custody case are just too high when you believe your kids’ safety is on the line. In addition, any time you believe your children are in immediate danger, you should call 9-1-1. In this type of situation, you should also consider getting a restraining order, as well. If you are worried about potential repercussions, share your concerns with your lawyer. 

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Your ex is trying to prevent you from seeing the kids.

    If your ex is attempting to limit your contact with the children, denying visits, or canceling at the last minute, then you should consider hiring an attorney to represent you. These types of behaviors could indicate that you’ll need a well-qualified, experienced lawyer by your side in court.

  • 06 of 07

    The court is requiring you to participate in treatment or take classes.

    If the court is requiring you to take parenting classes or anger management classes or to enroll in drug or alcohol treatment, then you’re probably already at a disadvantage in the eyes of the court. In this situation, it’s best to hire a lawyer to represent you. The only exception would be if all parents in your country or state are required to participate in parenting or anger management classes as a standard part of any child custody proceeding. (While not common, some jurisdictions do...MORE require some type of parental education for all child custody cases.) 

  • 07 of 07

    The circumstances of your case have changed significantly.

    Finally, if either your circumstances of your ex’s have changed significantly, then you’ll want to hire a child custody lawyer to represent you. For example, if either of you are relocating, remarrying, or even moving in with a significant other, then it may be a good idea to hire an attorney rather than representing yourself pro se.