Do I need an attorney?
Custody cases can be very complicated, particularly when two states are involved. Also, because batterers often use children as a weapon to manipulate survivors after they leave the relationship, it is important for survivors to find legal representation. In particular, survivors should try to find civil attorneys with experience in handling custody cases involving domestic violence.
Besides the underlying custody case, when two states are involved, it can be very complicated to sort out which state has the power to hear the custody case. A number of state and federal laws come into play. In addition, state criminal laws may be involved if one party has left a state with the children. For these reasons, it is critical for survivors to consult with experienced attorneys. Depending on the facts of a case, it may be necessary for a survivor to have a civil and a criminal attorney in each state.
The LRC can help survivors in interstate custody cases to find civil attorneys, and local public defender agencies may be able to assist in criminal defense cases.