In the state of Washington, almost 9 out of 10 child custody cases get settled by the parents themselves. That leaves only 2% for the court to determine and about 10% decided by default.

Out of those cases, in about 60% of them, neither parents sought legal representation. How do you know when it is time to seek legal representation?

Hiring a child custody lawyer can help ensure that you have someone on your side who understands the law and is looking out for you.

Keep reading for 8 signs to look out for to know it’s time to hire an attorney.

1. Your Ex Hired an Attorney

If you know that your ex has hired and is working with an attorney, then it is time for you to consider hiring representation also. You don’t want to look back and think that your case could have gone differently if you had only hired a lawyer.

If you are unable to afford an attorney then seek out the assistance of a free legal aid service.

They should be able to connect you with a lawyer who can provide pro bono or low-cost services.

2. Your Situation Is Complicated

Your situation started out so simple, but somehow along the way it has grown into a big complicated mess.

For example, you and your started out agreeing on shared custody. But now you learn that your ex hopes to show the court that you are unfit to be responsible for your children overnight.

This sort of change creates a much more complicated problem and that it is time for a lawyer.

3. Your Case Is in Multiple Jurisdictions

If you and your ex live in different states or different countries, then a lawyer can help you navigate the process. They will be able to tell you which jurisdiction’s laws affect your case.

4. Your Children Are in Danger

If you suspect your children are in any kind of danger you need to seek legal assistance immediately! There is no time when this situation doesn’t require the assistance of an attorney.

When a child’s safety is on the line, the stakes are too high for you to risk losing your custody case. You also should not hesitate to take other preventative safety measures.

This could include calling 911 when there is an immediate danger. You should also consider a restraining order if you feel that the situation calls for it.

A lawyer can help you protect both yourself and your children by providing competent legal advice for your situation.

5. Your Ex Is Preventing You from Seeing the Children

There is more to this than simply flat-out refusing to let you see your children. Other actions such as severely limiting your contact or canceling last minute also qualify.

This behavior means that you are going to have a more complicated and difficult case.

In situations like this, you need a competent lawyer who can go through the proper legal channels to ensure you have regular time with your children.

When it comes to visitation time, in cases where the father hired a lawyer but the mother didn’t, 38% of the fathers got more parenting time. The same goes for those cases where both parents hired an attorney.

The fathers of these cases more likely to get more parenting time at about 40%. This is significant considering that in cases where neither party hired a lawyer only 25% of fathers got some parenting time.

6. You Have Court Ordered Classes or Treatment

When the court orders you to attend treatment or classes, you are now at a disadvantage. This could be having you attend anger management, or drug and alcohol rehab, or parenting classes.

Have a lawyer represent you to ensure that you receive fair treatment from the court.

The only exception here is if every parent that goes through the court for custody is required to attend a certain type of class. In this case, you are getting the same treatment as everyone else.

This isn’t a standard type of policy. Though there are some jurisdictions that require parents to attend a parent education course as a standard part of child custody hearings.

7. Your Current Situation Has Done a 180

Sometimes legal proceedings can take months or even years. A lot can change in your life during that time.

When you began, you and your ex were separating. But in the months since, one of you could decide to get married to someone else or move to another state, or some other life-changing event.

If this happens, you should consult an attorney as the laws may have a different application to your situation. The rights of each party may change in accordance with the situation change.

8. You Have Notice of a Custody Hearing

Having the assistance and advice of a knowledgeable and skillful lawyer will help you make an informed decision about your options. Having a lawyer on your side at the hearing will ensure that your rights are fought for and represented during the hearing.

Find a Child Custody Lawyer

Not all custody cases require a lawyer, but if you notice any of these 8 signs, you should consider hiring a child custody lawyer. You want to make sure that you protect both you and your children’s rights.

The biggest thing to look out for is either your ex becoming combative or a major change in you or your ex’s situation. If these happen, then you’ll want to seek the advice of an experienced attorney.

If you suspect that your children are in danger, we strongly encourage you to seek professional legal advice. These situations are more important than a custody sharing agreement.

Contact us today if one of these 8 situations applies to you.