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Proving a Child Custody Case

Being engaged in a child custody case, either within the context of a divorce or suit affecting the parent child relationship, means that you are going to be concerned with a number of different factors associated with the relationship to your children. Invariably what comes up in a child custody case is that you are attempting to prove your suitability as a parent for your child. In many ways, this can be a frustrating experience because you know in your heart what kind of parent that you are. However, often times you are left having to defend your actions in regard to your children and your parenting style and methods. This can be very disheartening and many clients express frustration at having to do so.

However, this is the nature of a child custody case. You are not able to decide all of the terms of your case or on what fields you and your opposing parent will go to battle on. What you do get to decide is your attitude towards your case and your circumstances as well as how well you prepare for your child custody case. That is what I would like to discuss with you today. How best can you and your family prepare for a child custody case so that the outcome is favorable to you an is in the best interest of your children. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have a great deal of experience counseling and guiding parents through these sort of circumstances and I would like to share with you some of those experiences today. 

Determining your “why” for a child custody case

Before we can discuss anything else associated with a child custody case, it is necessary for you to think about why you are even here. Many parents will enter into a case, either one that they filed or that their opposing parent filed and think mainly about what could be lost in the case, what a nuisance the cases, and why they don't deserve to be involved in the case at all. I'm not here to tell you that any of these feelings are not well placed or deserved. As a parent myself I can understand how you would feel if I had to be involved in a child custody matter. However, once the case has started it is in your best interests to participate and to do so intentionally.

What does being intentional mean in regards to a child custody case? Well, I liken it to any other area of your life where it is best for you to make decisions about specific things based on specific pieces of information. As in, don't simply go into a child custody case and assume your attorney will help you make decisions that are in your best interests. You need to be able to understand the issues in your case, consider what is best for your child and then listen to the counsel of your attorney. At that point you will be able to make good decisions for yourself and for your children. 

To me, this all starts with understanding why you are involved in your child custody case. The difficulty in writing a blog post like this is that all of us come into a child custody case from different perspectives and different situations. While some of you may be trying to defend yourself against an ex-spouse who is attempting to win primary custody of her children Others of you may have supervised visitation of your kids and simply want to have a standardized possession order where you can be with your kids more often and hold more rights and responsibilities in relation to your kids. Like I said before, everyone reading this blog post will come into their child custody case from a very specific and very unique position. You need to identify where you are, where your children are and why it is that you are going to proceed with this case. 

Some of your reasons why you will continue in the earth child custody case is because you have no other choice. If a case was filed against you and you now have to act as the respondent in a child custody case, then you don't have much of an option when it comes to participating. You can still look for your specific reasons and then act intentionally to achieve those goals, but you are still more or less in a defensive posture at least at the beginning of your child custody case. 

On the other hand, if you are planning on filing a child custody case then you have the advantage of having more time to decide why it is this case is being filed in the first place. Are you attempting to modify a prior child custody order into something that is more favorable for your children and for yourself? Are you simply angry at an ex-spouse in our filing your case in order to get back at him or her? Have your children expressed a desire to live with you full time rather than with their other parent? Consider your specific reason why you have decided to file your child custody case and then you can determine goals for yourself and for your children.  

Determine your goals for a child custody case 

once you have figured out why it is you need to file a child custody case you then need to figure out what your goals are going to be for the case. My advice in this regard is to be crystal clear with yourself and with your attorney about what your goals are. You are not doing anyone a favor by coming into a child custody case with vague and unsettled goals. The fact is that a child custody case can be a somewhat long process and an expensive one at that. No, I did not mean to tell you that your case is going to last two years and cost you a year’s worth of salary to complete. However, family law attorneys bill by the hour and the longer your case goes the more it will cost most likely. Therefore, it would behoove you to settle on some specific goals for yourself early on rather than trying to figure them out once the cases are even filed. 

for example, if you are in a divorce situation and our trying to figure out your goals for child custody within that divorce case you should look to the nature of your family to determine those goals. If you have been the parent who has worked 60 hours a week for many years in order to provide financially for your children And are therefore not at home very much then an immediate goal for you should be to established or reestablish a relationship with your kids both long term and short term. This will allow you to overcome any obstacles from an emotional perspective that you may encounter with in your case. 

Next, I would tell you to take a look at what sort of possession schedule you think is reasonable in your circumstances. Again, if you are a parent who works a great deal outside the house and traveling you are likely not in a position to ask for primary custody of your children. That doesn't mean that you aren't a good parent. That doesn't mean you are not a caring parent. That doesn't even mean that you wouldn't go through great lengths to change your work schedule in order to accommodate your children. What it does mean is that you have a track record of not being able to stay for long stretches of time in the house with your kids. As our lives hopefully begin did revert to normalcy after the epidemic, we should be aware that if you are asking to be a primary conservator of your children then you are asking to be the primary caretaker of your children. This means not only providing for them financially but providing for them physically in the home, at school functions, and anywhere else your children will be. A job where you travel quite a bit or at least requires you to be in the office is not necessarily conducive to primary conservatorship

Therefore, your goals probably should shift towards Wanting to negotiate a flexible but fair parenting schedule with your children and your opposing parent. This means, for instance, if you need to be able to travel or come into work at a moment's notice you should do your best to work out a schedule with your co-parent rather than to leave it up to a judge. The reason I say this is that judges will typically hand down parenting plans and possession orders that are not that flexible and are fairly rigid. On the other hand, you and your spouse are able to negotiate more fully and understand your specific circumstances when compared to a judge. 

As a result, by council clients all the time that if you need a flexible parenting plan or possession schedule in your case your best bet is to put aside any emotions or differences with your spouse and attempt to negotiate with him or her in good faith. Yes, there is always the backup plan of going to see the judge but you will rarely receive a better outcome with a judge than you will your spouse except in extraordinary circumstances where you all can absolutely not negotiate or work together on coming up with your own plan.

Select the right attorney for you in your case 

I wanted to devote the last section of today's blog post towards encouraging you to take the time necessary to select the right attorney for you and for your case. Just about any family law attorney will be able to guide you through the filing of a family law case and can provide you with the same, basic advice when it comes to issues related to divorce, child custody, modifications or enforcement cases. the difference in Family law attorneys will be how that attorney works with you and your family and the report that you can build with the lawyer in terms of trust.

for that reason, I recommend interviewing a handful of attorneys before selecting one who is right for you and your family. More and more attorneys are allowing for flexible consultations that can be had in person at their office, over the phone and via video. I can tell you that our office is extremely accommodating to you based on your comfort level at this time. We understand that meeting face to face with a lawyer may not be something that you want to do right now. However, that does not mean that you have they excuse not too closely scrutinize any potential lawyer that you are considering hiring. 

You should look for an attorney who listens well, has a track record of achieving results in cases like yours and is not afraid to go to trial. Sometimes, if you are a more bashful or introverted person, that may mean that you should look for an attorney who will be slightly more aggressive and more extroverted in the sense of advocating for your rights. In this way you and your attorney can balance one another out. This is far from a scientific observation but it's just my personal experience and observations from years of being involved in family law cases. As unique a person as you are there are unique attorneys out there who can best represent you in your family.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. We thank you for showing an interest in our law practice and we hope to be able to serve you and your family in the future and whatever family law matter is relevant to you.