What are some pros and cons of getting a custody order?
There are many reasons people choose not to file for custody. Some people decide not to get a custody order because they don’t want to get the courts involved. Some parents make an informal agreement that works well for them. Some parents think going to court will provoke the other parent, or they are worried that if a custody case is started, the other parent will suddenly fight for (and get) more custody or visitation rights than they are comfortable with.
If the other parent is presently uninvolved with the child, he or she may become involved just because a case was started. Also, if the other parent fights for custody, the case may drag on for a long period of time, which can be emotionally and financially draining. The court will look into many aspects of your personal life that you may prefer keeping private such as past mental health issues, your criminal record, substance abuse issues, and details of your personal relationships.
However, getting a custody order from a court can give you certain legal rights. Getting a custody order can give you:
- the right to make decisions about your child; and/or
- the right to residency (to have your child live with you).
Without a custody order, it is possible that both parents may share these legal rights, even if one parent takes care of the child every day. However, if you file for custody, the other parent may also request these rights and it will be up to the judge to decide.
We strongly recommend talking to a lawyer who can help you think through if filing for custody would be best for you, depending on the facts of your situation. You can find legal help by clicking on the AL Finding a Lawyer page.