What can I expect if my boyfriend wants to take me to court to get custody of our daughter? 24 Answers as of October 03, 2011

I had a baby with my boyfriend and now we have problems and he is saying he is going to take me to court to take my daughter away from me. We were never married and I live with my mom and am going to college full time. Do I need a lawyer if he does take me to court?

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John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
You will definitely have a better and more effective result if you have a lawyer to make sure the court is properly informed of all relevant information. A lawyer may also have more leverage in forcing the father to work out a suitable parenting plan agreement that will eliminate leaving everything to a judge. If you cannot work out an agreed parenting plan, a judge will establish the plan for you based on what he/she believes is in the child's best interest. Without a lot more information about the situation it isn't possible to predict what you might expect. However, most guys who threaten women with taking the child away don't have any idea what they are talking about and are simply trying to intimidate the mother. Courts start with the presumption that what is best for a child is to have two, loving parents, both actively involved in parenting the child even though they don't live together. That presumption usually means that neither parent is going to be able to "take the child away" from the other parent.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 9/16/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
Yes, I would think you need a lawyer to help you, particularly if he has one.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 9/16/2011
Goolsby Law Office
Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
We recommend that you hire a lawyer because child custody is a very important legal matter. Please see a lawyer ASAP! Good luck!
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 9/16/2011
Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
Well, this may be a biased opinion but... "Yes." I would have one.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/16/2011
Cody and Gonillo, LLP
Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
You will have to appear in court - whether you retain counsel is up to you but it would be preferable especially if he hires counsel.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 9/15/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    You have sole custody since you were never married, in Wisconsin. You would want a lawyer if he hires a lawyer. The court will send you both to mediation to attempt to resolve a parenting agreement for your daughter.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    ROWE LAW FIRM
    ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
    You should have a lawyer anytime you go to court, especially for something as important as the custody of a child. It is likely that your boyfriend may be able to establish his parental rights, and perhaps even gain a custody order for fifty percent (50%) of the physical custody time with the child, depending on the circumstances. You need to be prepared to let the court know why your boyfriend having custody or increased time will be bad for the child. You should consult with and retain a lawyer right away.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    I highly recommend that you hire counsel. Generally an unwed mother is deemed to have sole custody of the child. More fathers though are asserting their rights with a petition for paternity and custody though. Unless you have issues that might show you to not be a fit parent he will have a hard time getting anything other than visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    It is always to your advantage to have an attorney by your side. An experienced attorney increases the chances that your case will be presented in the proper way and that the right result will occur. Ultimately, the decision regarding time sharing is based on the best interest of the child. There are many factors that go into this decision and it can be a long process. I suggest you consult and experienced Family Law attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    Whenever custody is an issue in a case, I recommend hiring a custody lawyer. At a minimum, pay for a consultation with an experienced child custody lawyer so you understand what to expect at Court.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    You should get a lawyer if there is a case concerning custody. People can represent themselves in court cases, however it is always best to have an attorney who is familiar with the laws and who is capable of protecting your interests.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of James L. Miller
    Law Office of James L. Miller | James Miller
    Don't let your boyfriend scare you with idle threats. Sure he can take you to court for custody but that does not mean he is going to get full custody. There are many factors to be considered by the court in determining child custody and visitation. I suggest you contact an attorney in your area to help you. There are many attorneys, such as myself, who offer free consultations. Too many times people attempt to go through the court system without the assistance of an attorney and they are disappointed. You could save yourself a lot of time and money by seeking counsel first.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    Your relationship to your daughter is at stake so it makes sense for you to confer with a skilled family law attorney and to explore your legal options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    You should retain an experienced Family Law Attorney to represent you in the custody case. From what you relate, you should expect andprepare for contested litigation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/3/2011
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    Both parents should be prepared preferably with legal counsel - to prove what is in the best interest of the child as far as being in their respective custody.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    The Law Office of Cathy R. Cook
    The Law Office of Cathy R. Cook | Cathy R. Cook
    You have custody by law in Ohio because you and the father were not married. If he files for custody, the court will look into at the child's best interest in determining who should have custody. The factors the court reviews include the mental and physical health of the parents and child, any history of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect, the parent more likely to facilitate the other parent's time with the child. You should obtain an attorney to assist you in presenting evidence and challenging the father's evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Easy question: yes you need a lawyer if he has a lawyer in court. His chances of getting full custody are not good. Shared parenting is another story. You should file for child support immediately you are entitled to it. But you still will need a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation
    Elizabeth Jones, A Professional Corporation | Elizabeth Jones
    He can take you to court. And he can ask for full custody. That does not mean that he will get it. It sounds like empty threats to me. Have you even established that he is the father so that he can pay child support?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy | Cassandra Savoy
    Custody is a big issue. It is very difficult to change the status quo. Assuming that you are not an alcoholic or drug addict, or otherwise an unfit parent, he might have more difficulty than he thinks. Yes. You do need a lawyer. If he has a lawyer, you could more easily loose because the lawyer knows more than you and you will get lost in the legalize.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Although you have the right to represent yourself, I highly recommend that you do retain a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Law Office of Rhonda Ellifritz | Rhonda Ellifritz
    I would definitely recommend retaining an attorney from the beginning. That way, you know it has been done correctly from the start. I have had many clients who try to go to Court on their own, realize they are in trouble, and THEN go find an attorney. The result is that you end up paying the same amount, if not more, to fix the mess created. Save your stress for college.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/15/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    In Washington, you can expect the court to put in place a parenting plan in the best interest of the child.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/15/2011
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