Sued for Custody

You’ve Been Sued for Custody, Now What?

When you receive notice from your child’s other parent that you have been sued for custody, many things will go through your mind. Why are they doing this? Why are they alleging untrue things about me? Will they be able to take my child away from me? Will I lose all visitation rights? These are all important concerns but the first thing you might wonder is “what happens next?”

Custody Master

Generally, the next thing to occur in your custody case is a custody conference before a custody “master”. A custody master is not a judge but an employee of the County. However, they do have experience in custody matters. Although they do not have the full authority of a judge, they do have significant sway over your custody matter. The master’s main purpose at your custody conference is to serve as a mediator in an attempt to get the parties to agree to a custody schedule without the Court having to impose its will on the parties. If the parties cannot agree on a custody schedule, the master does have the authority to enter an interim order. Masters are reluctant to do so, and typically urge the parties to come to a resolution on their own.

Going Before a Judge

If the parties cannot agree on a custody schedule,  they can ask the Court to schedule a hearing before an actual judge. The judge will hear the case on its merits and issue a custody order. Assuming it is reasonably acceptable to the parties, it is almost always preferable to agree to a custody schedule during the custody conference. Why? Because proceeding to a custody hearing before a judge can have negative consequences including:

  • It can take longer
  • The costs can be expensive depending on the issues
  • It could result in one parent receiving significantly less custody than they might have received had they come to an agreement.

So, if you have been sued for custody, give us a call. We can discuss your options and the best course of action.


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