The most important thing an attorney can do is communicate effectively with their client. It doesn’t matter if an attorney is able to obtain what he or she deems to be a “good deal” if it’s not what the client wants or will accept. It’s important that the attorney knows what the client wants and what the client will accept. It is important for the attorney to explain the possibility of the client receiving the expected outcome and if time permits, any actions that will help the client in their endeavor. Sometimes it’s easy. Small things like don’t move in with a significant other right away because it could cause instability in the child’s life. Sometimes it’s harder. The child’s age determines how much of a say the child would have in any decision regarding where that child resides.
Custody is one of the most contentious issues in Matrimonial Cases. Often custody battles turn into long term arguments between families where each person’s family tries prove their love to the children of the broken marriage. This is not good for the children. The best outcome is both parents having meaningful relations and properly influencing their children’s emotional, educational and spiritual growth. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. People come with their own set of issues and points of objectivity.
There is physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is the parent that physically has the child(ren) reside with them. Legal custody is the parent that makes the decisions relating to the child. Stability is an important factor for children so usually one (1) parent has physical custody. Not all the time, some parents have been able to successfully have joint physical custody bu its not the norm even though it must be done on consent of both parties.
Many parents want joint custody. This is usually done with one parent having physical custody and both parents having joint legal custody. When this is the outcome, parents have to talk to one and other to decide the child’s activities, healthcare including Dr. visits and to which Dr. This is why Judges cannot order joint custody. It requires the parents to cooperate with one and other.
Many attorneys insert provisions regardless of the custody arrangement to preserve their clients’ rights. On many occasions, parties will have joint legal custody with the parent that has physical custody also having final decision-making authority so that parents do not argue every trivial detail. It’s also common for a stipulation to be inserted that the custodial party cannot use healthcare providers that are outside of the network. Many custodial parents want to move, maybe away from the marital home. Attorneys often insert stipulations allowing the parent to move 0ne (1) county away. Often, the moving party agrees to do the driving for drop off and pick up as that parent was the one who moved. Non-custodial parents have been known to allow a move such as this but insert a clause that the court that made the order shall retain jurisdiction instead of allowing jurisdiction to move to the new county once the custodial parent has lived in the new county for six (6) months. This allows the parties to avoid a relocation hearing while still giving the parties a large say in their future.
My job is, first see if there is a possibility to settle any parts of this matter without having the Court hear evidence. I need to go into this negotiation already knowing what my client is willing to accept. Should there be a possibility to settle, then try to settle the matter without telling the other side the least amount of anything your client is willing to accept. If not, then I have to prep my client and start preparing for trial.
It’s my job to know what the Court wants to see in the custodial parent and get my client to control their actions accordingly and to develop the testimony of witnesses that can attest to my clients ability to put the needs of the children before his/her own and to show that my client would be better at fostering a meaningful relationship between the child(ren) and the non-custodial parent than the other parent.
The standard employed by the Family Court is the Best Interest of the Child. This sounds simple enough but people are subjective. It’s for your lawyer to know how a litigants’ actions are going to be viewed by the Court and to instruct a litigant on whatever behavior to avoid. Some bad behavior, like substance abuse or violence are pretty straight forward. Others, like parental alienation by a significant other of a non-custodial parent could be harder for a person to see or control. A lawyer with the proper experience, like me, will be able to help you in first seeing this and then helping you talk to the new spouse to stop such behavior but not start a new conflict with the significant other.