3 Things to Avoid Saying in a Custody Battle

You’ve probably heard that you have a right to remain silent in a criminal case, but sometimes it’s an advantage to you to remain silent in a civil case as well.  This is particularly true in the tense situation of a custody battle.  Some parents can be their own worst enemy in a fight over custody of their children.  This article is going to remind you of what you likely already know when you are in a non-stressful situation, and will help you apply these tried and true principles in a custody case.

Avoid All Physical Threats/Cussing/Bashing the Ex

When you are in a custody battle, you need to be cautious about every word you speak.  Imagine that the judge is sitting on your shoulder overhearing every word and decide whether your tone and language will benefit you.

  • Never make a threat of physical harm, even if it is in jest.  Even words meant with sarcasm can be taken out of context.
  • Avoid cussing or hateful speech as these can reflect poorly on you.  You have an opportunity to create your image with the words that come out of your mouth, so make sure that you come across as even-tempered, wise and caring. These are traits almost anyone values in a parent, and exhibiting them will help win points in the custody battle.
  • Don’t bash the ex to the children.  When you talk about your ex negatively to the children, it puts the kids in the middle of the battle.  It isn’t healthy for them, and it won’t help you with the case. 

Don’t be too eager to show your hand 

  • Keep your strategy between you and your attorney.  If you were a gambler, you wouldn’t show your opponents your hand of cards.  Similarly, you want to avoid giving the other side too much information about your strategy and plans.
  • You may not want to be too specific initially about your priorities.  If having the kids this Christmas is the most important thing to you in this world, you may or may not want to share that information just yet.  Revealing your pain points may cause a vindictive ex-spouse to try to prevent you from having the kids this Christmas just to spite you.
  • Follow your attorney’s advice on information you share. Your attorney can advise you on what information to share or hold back, but in general you want to share information strategically at the right times and in the right ways. 

Refrain from “never” and “always” and stick to the truth

  • Don’t back your ex into a corner.  When you tell someone you will never do something or you always deserve something, then you automatically trigger an obstinate reflex.  Even though the term is custody “battle,” they often involve a lot of negotiation, so keep tried and true principles of negotiation in mind:  Don’t back your opponent into a corner by using words that show you aren’t interested in compromise.
  • Don’t exaggerate, stick to the truth.  In an emotional situation, it is easy to exaggerate a story or twist the truth a bit to try to get what you want.  When you are working to get custody of your children, you will be best served by only saying things that are absolutely true because this builds credibility with your children, with the counselors and evaluators that may be involved, and ultimately the judge.  Stick to the truth.

While these are a few of the things you shouldn’t say, there are many things that should be expressed.  Children are sensitive to divorce, so share your love and appreciation for them often.  Take an interest in them.  Spend the time that you can and talk to them about their feelings.  Take the opportunity to model cooperation and civility for your children during the custody case, and if hard positions or harsh words need to be said, let those come from your attorney so that you can be a calm and collected rock for should children to lean on.

5 Things Most People Don’t Know About Finding the Perfect Family Lawyer

The perfect family lawyer is the person who best fits with you, your goals, and your case, and it’s worth taking the time to find the best fit.  This article will discuss the steps to narrowing the field to the best family lawyer for you.

1. Look at What and Where.  Family law is a general term for a practice that typically includes divorce, custody, child support, visitation, alimony/spousal support, adoption, pre-nuptial agreements, and more. If you want to find the perfect family lawyer, you first need to identify what type of case you have.  One of the first questions you will want to ask your potential attorney is whether they practice where the case will be filed. Typically your case will be litigated where either you or your spouse live, but there are exceptions, so ask up front whether you are looking for an attorney in the right place.  

2. Research Whether Your Potential Choice Specializes in Family Law.  You need to do the work to find the best family lawyer, and you have many tools at your fingertips.

  • Check the Attorney’s Website.  Click the links on the attorney’s website.  Does the attorney list family law as one of his or her specialties?
  • Ask Your Attorney Questions about Their Experience in Family Law.   Ask as many questions as you can think of, such as how long they have been practicing family law, what types of outcomes they have had in cases similar to yours, what style they practice (whether adversarial or more conciliatory), and what your expectations should be.

3. Do a Reputation Check.   Ask friends and family for a recommendation, since word of mouth can be one of the best ways to hear whether an attorney is good or bad.  Check the Better Business Bureau website to make sure that your potential choice doesn’t have any complaints.  Look at the online reviews to see whether others had a good experience.

4. Talk About the Money.  Some clients feel reluctant to talk about the billing, but this should be done right up front.  Many attorneys require a retainer, which is a fee paid at the beginning of your case, but that amount isn’t the only number you need to know to make an informed decision.  Ask which attorney will work on your case and why.  With some firms, the same person will be working on your case exclusively and for the duration.  With other firms, you may communicate with a partner, but an associate (less experienced attorney) will be doing much of the work.  Find out in advance who will be doing what, and make sure you are comfortable with it.  Make sure that you will get back any portion of the retainer that isn’t used. When your bills come, look at them carefully, and don’t be afraid to question a charge that seems unreasonable.

5. Consult with More than One Attorney.  Some people feel obligated to an attorney after an initial consultation, but it’s a mistake not to shop around to your top few choices.  Trust your impressions. Go to your initial consultation prepared.  Ask questions.  Take notes.  Give yourself time to make the decision and don’t feel rushed, and you will gravitate to the person who is the best fit for you and your needs.

Don’t let your search for an attorney overwhelm you.  Finding the best family lawyer is not so different from finding the right home, or a great car or your favorite technology.  By following the guidelines above you can identify what you need, do the necessary research, and finally make a well-founded decision on whether that person is the right fit for you.

How to Take Charge of Your Custody Battle Without Losing Your Mind

If you are like most parents, your kids are the most important people in your life.  They are adorable and irreplaceable, and you would do anything for them.  If you are going to battle with an itinerant ex-spouse to determine the fate of your precious ones, then you need every arrow in your quiver possible.  This guide will help you understand the what you need to do to be successful in a custody battle.

  1. Understand the rules of the game.  Courts have broad discretion to protect the best interest of the children, which includes each child’s health, safety, education and general welfare.  Courts can take into account any number of factors such as the following:

 

  • evidence of abuse or neglect,
  • the age of the child
  • sibling relationships
  • degree of attachment between parent and child

 

Courts cannot take into account the gender or race of the parent.  One parent’s financial ability can’t be the sole factor in a custody decision. 

 

  • Be your best self.  During a custody battle, you actions and the words that come out of your mouth will be under a microscope.  Be careful of the way you behave with the ex-spouse and also with the children.  It goes without saying that any type of threatening or violent behavior should not occur, but also you should proactively behave as if the judge were observing you at all times.  Speak courteously to the ex.  Try not to take unreasonable positions. When you are with your child, give them your quality time.  If there are ways you can make yourself a better parent through overcoming addictions or seeking more education, look to improving yourself as a parent.  Taking the high road is not only the right thing to do, but it will give you an edge in getting the custody you seek.

 

  • Pinpoint Areas of disagreement with the ex-spouse.  In any legal case, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the opposing party.  Don’t just get frustrated with what they do, but look deeper to try to understand why.  If you can get to the why, then you will be one step closer to finding a resolution that will be acceptable to both parties.  If the issue is unresolvable, then by understanding your ex, you will be better able to fight them in court.  For example, if your ex-spouse wants a different schedule, look at why he or she is taking that position?  Is there a work schedule reason?  Is there a grandparent or otherwise, whose schedule is playing into your spouse’s mindset?  If you can get beneath the surface to understand your opponent’s arguments, then you have a better chance of a successful outcome.

 

  • Gather evidence and document everything.  Your word that the other person is a bad parent is not as convincing as solid evidence.  If a child care worker, neighbor, teacher has observed your ex-spouse abusing or mistreating the child, then have them document that observation.  Consult with your attorney on the best way to preserve this evidence, but don’t pass up the opportunity to memorialize important evidence. If your spouse has sent you malicious emails, organize those in a file for your attorney.  If your spouse has posted damaging comments on social media, screen shot that information and share it with your attorney.  It takes extra work to be organized and document everything, but in many cases that time in preparation pays off.

 

  • Consult with professionals.  If you feel your children are suffering from the custody battle, don’t hesitate to get them counseling.  If you need someone to talk to, turn to a trusted friend, look into community resources for counseling, or find a professional counselor who can help you.  It’s not uncommon to have a high stress level during a custody battle, and you can seek help.  Hire an attorney that you trust and who will be zealous in advocating your interests.

 

 

3 Tips Most People Don’t Know About Finding the Right Attorney

Attorney shopping can be quite the headache, especially when you consider that your reasons for actually needing an attorney may be a cause of unexpected stress in your life.  While many law firms claim that they are giving you the best lawyer in their firm, there are many other important factors to consider when finding the right representation for your case.

Here are 3 tips most people don’t consider when trying to find the right attorney:

  • The Right Attorney Is Available For You

Attorneys may be busy and may have a slew of other cases, however the right Attorney for you will be one that is available for you when you need him/her most.

When you’re shopping for an attorney, make sure that during your initial meetings you aren’t rushed out the door, or made to hurry over important details. The right attorney understands that your time and your circumstances are just as important as theirs and won’t make you feel rushed.

  • The Right Attorney Has Experience in Your Specific Type of Case

You are most likely aware that you should seek the help of a divorce lawyer if you want to get divorced, or a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured in an accident. However in addition to seeking the help of a lawyer who specializes in your type of case, you should also find one who actually has experience in your type of case.

Though an accidental injury lawyer may know the specifics about getting the compensation you deserve, a lawyer who has had experience with the specific insurance company you’re working with will be the right attorney for you!

  • The Right Attorney Has Confidence in You and in Your Case

In some types of cases, the attorney doesn’t get paid until you get paid, right? While that may be enough incentive for the average lawyer to work hard on your case, it is important to remember that the right lawyer for you will be one that has confidence in you and your case, and doesn’t just want to win for a paycheck.

Having confidence in your case means more than just bragging about their track record with similar cases and behaving arrogantly. The right attorney will exhibit confidence in your case by making the most of your situation, those involved and will in turn provide the best outcome for you.

So instead of being impressed by how many cases your prospective attorney has won in their career, consider choosing an attorney based on their availability, confidence in you, and how many cases they have won that are very similar to yours to have the most success with your case!

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