Certainly not before talking to your spouse in a really hard conversation.
Then, not until you try to mediate it.
The court system is the last thing you want to engage when issues of your children arise. As parents, work it out. Don’t let someone in a black robe make decisions for you. Don’t force your children to be examined by a lawyer appointed for them by the Court. Don’t take whatever bit of civility there might exist between you and your spouse and ruin even that.
Unless emergency circumstances force you to get your children back (parental kidnapping), there is rarely an occasion that you should allow a judge to made decisions about anything connected to YOUR children.
Any judge, regardless of whether it’s in Supreme Court (the only Court empowered to grant divorces, but also handles everything a Family Court handles), or Family Court, (solely for support and custody), who is tasked with the responsibility to make a decision where YOUR children should live will likely never meet your children.
Most custody cases can, and should be settled. Except for those that can’t.
The average divorcing wife can not afford to hire an attorney to litigate custody. The Family Court is designed for pro se litigants. Although you don’t technically need an attorney for a divorce in Supreme Court, that’s a rather involved endeavor….especially if your spouse has an attorney.,
Family Court regularly decides custody cases and most litigants do not hire attorneys.
Involving attorneys to convince judges to make these types of decisions is a mistake. A big one.
If you were able to see the judge’s decision after a trial on custody now…….in the present tense……., that’s what you will be ordered to do. Make a deal. These are your children.
However, I have handled many custody cases, and less than ten trials. I really hated those trials. The responsibility I carried about the future of my client’s children is extremely stressful, and it affected me very emotionally. Each and every time.
All the other custody cases settled.
I gave up custody litigation for about 10 years, and then Covid-19 hit, and I’m back. Custody cases in the Covid era can not cost what it did pre-Covid. The world of expensive litigation even in high net worth divorces has ended, at least for now. Lawyers who used to thrive charging their clients for the hours of wasted time spent in the Courthouse waiting………and waiting………are going to have to find an alternate source of income. With the world converting to remote everything, court appearances are now done by skype or telephone, and are scheduled every half hour, on schedule, and usually on time.
Welcome to the new world of technology in the courtroom.