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Custody Battle with a Narcissist: How to Fight and Protect Your Child

When the other parent in your custody case has a narcissistic personality disorder, it can result in a toxic battle. Alex Falconi aka the Proper Person went through a custody battle with his ex-wife who he says has a narcissistic personality disorder.  Below is what he had to say about dealing with someone with a narcissistic personality disorder in a custody battle. 

Somebody with Narcissistic Personality Disorder will either attach themselves to a conflict or they'll avoid conflict.  Most of the time narcissists avoid conflicts.  Most of the time it's preferable to a narcissist to just cut someone off instead of engaging in an argument and conflict.  But once they choose that they're going to fight it ends up becoming what is called a “narcissistic space” for them.   Then they start to garner narcissistic supply for it and from it and then it becomes an addiction.

Why You Must "Annihilate" the Narcissist

Underneath the hood,...

Sharing Custody During Coronavirus Pandemic: When One Parent is Sick

As a family law attorney, I am getting more and more questions from parents who share custody and are struggling during this coronavirus pandemic. One of the dilemmas parents are facing is whether to send the child to a parent who is sick when they are sharing parenting time duties. 

If you're in this situation whether you're the sick parent or the healthy parent  I want you to go to the thing that I always tell you to go to and that is what is in the best interest of the children.   That is always the guiding principle when making decisions about your kids.   I'm confident that any judge in the nation and in the world at this point is going to tell you the same thing.

It Should Always Be In The Best Interest of The Child

What is unique about this coronavirus is that the symptoms are very similar to the symptoms that people experience when they're having seasonal allergies, like runny nose, scratchy throat, and sneezing. ...

What You Should Be Doing 6 Weeks Before Your Custody Trial - Part 2

Common Deadlines Prior to Custody Trial

In part one I went over that six weeks before your custody trial you are checking your calendar, checking the judge's minute entries, checking the rules and checking your deadlines. You are making sure you have everything calendared and everything is disclosed.  And you are looking ahead at the deadlines that are coming up prior to trial. Two common deadlines are giving your exhibits to the clerk for marking and the pre-trial statement. 

Giving Your Exhibits to the Clerk for Marking

In Arizona, you must provide your exhibits prior to trial. However, I can only speak for Arizona.  In some states, the rules might be that the judge marks the exhibits on the day of the trial. This is why it is important for you to check your local rules. 

The Pre-Trial Statement

In Arizona, a pre-trial statement is required. The pre-trial statement is where you give the judge a preview of the things that you agree on and a...

What You Should be Doing 6 Weeks Before Your Custody Trial - Part 1

Generally speaking, this is what I am doing 6 weeks prior to a custody trial.  It's important to remember that deadlines differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In part one, I'm going to talk about checking your local rules, reading the judge’s minute entries, calendaring deadlines, and the difference between disclosing exhibits and exchanging exhibits. 

Check Your Local, State or Country Custody Rules 

It is so important that you look at your local rules for important requirements and deadlines.  These will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  For example, in Arizona, a pre-trial statement is required by the courts but in other states, it is not a requirement. We will actually delve into pre-trial statements in Part two.  

Read Your Judge's Minute Entries

These are the minute entries for the judge setting trial. It's important for you to look at that minute entry where the judge sets trial and to calendar it. In...

Taking the Emotion Out of Your Custody Case

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As you're going through a custody case it is important to make life as peaceful as possible for your children.  One of the ways that you can do this is to keep them out of the middle of the litigation.   It's my opinion that kids should not be in the middle of your case issues.

I know some of you have older kids and there's just no way that you can shield them from the litigation.  Other people have children who are going to be interviewed by the court or you are having custody evaluations and the kids know that something's going on.  Sometimes there's no way you can shield the children from it.   But I have so many cases that I see where people have their children right in the middle of their cases.  People are involving the kids and giving them a play-by-play.

Although the kids may say it's not stressful it really is stressful to them.   Think about how stressful your case is to you!  Kids need to be kids.  There are two...

Keeping Your Hands Clean During Your Child Custody Case

In the law, there is a term of art and it’s called ‘having unclean hands’.  What this means is when you're involved in court litigation and you have unclean hands you've either done something to violate a law, violate an agreement or a rule.  Oftentimes when somebody who has unclean hands or dirty hands is asking for a certain type of relief from the court and the court sees that that person has unclean hands the court may not be inclined to grant the relief because they say that person has unclean hands.

Often times when somebody who has unclean hands or dirty hands is asking for a certain type of relief from the court if the court sees that that person has unclean hands the court may not be inclined to grant the relief because they say that person has unclean hands.

 The reason I'm bringing this up now is that I'm involved in a highly contested child custody proceeding.  It’s a hotly contested proceeding and there's a lot of...

What If My Child Wants To Live With Me?

Let’s talk about how much weight the child’s wishes have in a custody case. What if your child wants to live with you? I have many people who come into my office and tell me that their child is telling them that they want to live with me full-time or they want to spend more time with me than they do with their mom or dad.

They reason that that should be the end of the story because my kid wants to live with me.   I wish that the answer were that easy but it's not.  In my Best Interest Checklist one of those factors is the interests or wishes of the child.  A judge is going to consider the wishes of a child if that child is old enough to articulate his or her wishes.   How old does a child have to be before a judge is going to start considering the child's wishes?  It depends on the law, the judge, and your child.

There are some children who are more mature at 8 years old than other 10 years old.  So really it depends on when your...

Do NOT Do This If You Want To Be Ready For Your Custody Trial

This is something that you do not want to do if you want to be prepared for your custody trial.   A couple of weeks ago a potential client came in to see me because she was getting ready for a divorce trial and was representing herself.   She wanted me to coach her a little bit and she was a really a kind person but during the whole consultation I was cringing because she had no clue what the court had ordered in terms of getting ready for trial.

When you're getting ready for your trials you cannot ignore the court orders.  You have to read all of the minutes in your case especially the minutes where the judge set your trial.  Chances are in those minutes the judge is going to give you very important information about what the judge wants to see happen prior to trial.   For example in Arizona when the judge sets trial the judge will give us deadlines in the minutes about filing pretrial statements.

The order will state when they're due and...

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

I want to talk to you about child custody jurisdiction.  This has come up for me a couple times actually in the last week and it's a kind of an important topic.  If you haven’t heard of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act you need to learn about it.  It is also known in the legal world as UCCJEA.   It's an act that governs jurisdiction of child custody disputes and as I understand it all states except for one state subscribe to the UCCJEA.   

This is actually something I just learned a couple of days ago because I was consulting with one of my Command the Courtroom viewers who happens to have a case in Arizona.   She lives in Boston but the case was originated in Arizona and apparently Massachusetts does not subscribe to the UCCJEA.   The UCCJEA governs how jurisdiction is established and generally speaking in order for jurisdiction to be established in a place you and your children notably actually...

Know The Difference Between Joint Custody & Equal Parenting Time

This comes up a lot in my practice.  People come in to see me and they tell me I want joint custody and I don't think that they realize there are two aspects to custody.  There is the legal aspect of custody and is there is the physical aspect of custody.

The legal aspect of custody relates to who's making major decisions about the children.  Normally major decisions relate to major decisions in the area of medicine education religion and personal care.  Personal care is kind of a newer thing that's come up and it relates to for example, are you going to let your kid get a tattoo or get a nose piercing or color their hair. Those are personal care decisions.   Custody relates to major decisions in those areas. Custody does not relate to that day-to-day everyday decisions that you make when the child is in your care.  For example, the kid comes over to see you and spend time with you and is feeling a little under the weather.   You want to...

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