Why Child Custody Should Always Be Formalized

One of the worst temptations when dealing with child custody is to try to handle the situation without getting into court hearings or legal paperwork. This can be especially tempting if you and a former partner seem to be able to sort things out between the two of you. No matter how amicable the situation is, though, there are some good reasons to hire a child custody attorney and formalize what you and your ex have decided.

Long-Term Continuity

It can seem a little outlandish to imagine a scenario where both parents die or are incapacitated within a short period. When something like that happens, though, it can cause conflict in regards to child custody. That's especially the case if close relatives, such as a child's grandparents on each side of the family, insist they ought to end up with custody. A child custody attorney can help you draw up paperwork that determines who would take care of your child if something happens to you.

Medical Issues

Another argument for having a formal arrangement is to ensure you can make medical decisions. Generally, a joint custody agreement is established. Within this agreement, both parents have a say in medical issues. However, in emergencies, whoever is closest to the child at the time needs to have the formal power to make snap decisions. By getting it in writing, you'll ensure there won't be delays if a doctor questions whether you or your former partner has the legal right to make medical decisions.


In some ways, this issue is similar to the medical side of the equation. The typical joint custody agreement states that both sides have a say in a child's education. If there is a dispute over when a kid should start school, for example, the child custody documents will help you determine what happens and who makes the decision.

As with medical issues, you'll also be empowered by law. This means the child custody agreement will provide proof for educators and administrators who might question whether you're legally allowed to make decisions for your child.


The American legal system has a strong preference for keeping both parents active in a child's life. If you or your former partner wishes to move a long distance, that may interfere with the custody. Courts can and regularly do intervene to prevent moves. With paperwork in place, there will be a formal recognition that neither parent can move right away after divorce.

For more information about negotiating child custody, contact a local family law attorney.