10 Commandments of Child Custody Litigation
1. Never Lie in Court
Most attorneys will agree that the worst thing that you can do is lie in court. Most people take liberties with the truth in a domestic case. Many times the court has to decide a case based upon conflicting testimony from the parties. Help the court choose your side by being as truthful as possible.
2. Never Lie to Your Lawyer
Attorneys can make the best out of a bad situation if they know the situation. Do not lie to your lawyer. Your lawyer can only prepare properly for your case if he or she knows all of the facts. If you lie to your lawyer, he/she cannot possibly prepare an effective case.
3. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT
The wheels of jusice do not move as fast as people think. Also, this could be one of the mosr stressful experiences of your life - even Einstein would not recollect every single detail without the benefit of a documented reminder
Keep a Journal, Calendar, Photo, Videos, Emails, and Receipts. Life moves at a fast pace. Documenting preserves crucial evidence that you may not recollect and will need.
4. Pay Your Lawyer on Time — Or You Could Lose Them
The last time that you worked without pay, if ever, you probably did not like it. Lawyers are no different. The expense demands on a law firm are significant. When a client pays as expected and on time it eliminates an unnecessary distraction .
5. Respect the Court
No matter what you think of the Judge, respect the position that he or she holds.Dress at all times for success. Impressions always matter. When you speak, make eye contact with the Judge, speak calmly and in a tone of voice that can be clearly heard.
6. Time Plus Possession = Custody
The court tends not to disturb children from their present setting. The longer they are in a stable environment the greater the likelihood that the court will leave them there. Do everything within your power to provide a stable and secure environment for your child.
7. Aside from Any Bias of the Court, the Most Important Factor in Any Child Custody Decision Is Stability
This includes stability of parenting, income, mood, relationships, surroundings, etc. Combine this with commandment number six. A stable environment over time gives children a better chance at developing into healthy adults. However, the converse is also true. An unstable environment over time is not healthy for children.
8. Know Your Goals
If you do not know what your goals are, and your spouse knows his/her goals, we can almost guarantee you that you will wind up where they want you. I don’t think that you will want to be where your soon-to-be ex-spouse or opposing party (e.g., ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend) wants you. This may sound funny, but one third to one half of all domestic litigants do not know their goals, while others have unrealistic goals.
9. If at All Possible, Put the Other Side at Risk
This is basic. If the other side has nothing to lose then they can fight all day long. If they have nothing to lose then perhaps you should examine the merits of your case. There is a caveat to this rule. Unless it is not possible, you should not box your opponent into a corner. Give them an out, through settlement, with dignity. I have come into cases where the opponent boxed my client into a corner. These are the easiest cases for me because, from the client’s prospective, it is surrender, die or fight. For me, the case is lost anyway, so I can try anything. You would be amazed at how many cases I have won when faced with a client who had nothing to lose.
10. Arm Your Attorney, Don’t Disarm Him
Remember Comandments 1 and 2. Also, do not do anything that risks your cases like getting a DUI on the way to your custody case or allowing yourself to be goaded into a verbal and/or physical altercation with your estranged spouse or ex-partner. Instead, maintain your calm, gather information for your attorney to use in court. Live to fight another day.
Maryland and Florida attorney)