How to Advocate and Negotiate in Your Custody Case

Sep 10, 2020

What's On Your Child Custody Wish List?

When you go to buy a car you have certain things on your wish list.  I know when I go to buy a car it's like I want the car fully loaded.  I want every option that is going to make my life the way I want it to be included in that car.   But then I go into the car dealership and realize that there are certain costs associated with each of the options that I want.  So then I have to evaluate what it is that I really want and what's most important to me and what I can afford.

And this is the way that you kind of have to evaluate your child custody case.  There are rare situations where one of the parties might be in a situation where they're holding all the cards and have all of the bargaining power.  The other party is at a complete disadvantage.  In my experience as a family law attorney, these are rare situations.   I feel that each of the parties has things that are great for their case and maybe not so great and so they each have to evaluate what their strongest positions are.

What the things are that they want the most and most importantly what is best for their children?  Those are the things that they have to advocate for the most.

You Have to Choose Your Battles in a Custody Battle

This doesn't pertain to child custody cases per se, but I've had many divorces over the years where parties are fighting and often it comes down to the barbecue grill!  I don't understand it but people fight over the grill all the time.  They also fight over Christmas decorations.  I have been in so many situations where people come down to the wire we're dividing up personal property and then they start arguing about the elf on the shelf.  I've really had that happen and I've had a judge tell me are you kidding me right now??  you're arguing over elf on the shelf?? 

The lesson here is that you have to think about what it's going to cost you to push that and what you have to gain versus what you might have to lose.   In your child custody case if you're fighting for something that may not be as important as for example these big-ticket items:

  • What kind of custody arrangement is it going to be, joint or sole? 
  • What's the parenting time going to look like? 

If you're fighting or arguing over something that maybe is not quite as important that can be really distracting from the strength of the bigger argument that you might have.   

Look at What Is At Stake In Your Custody Case

One of the first things that I teach in almost every one of the courses that I've created for is you have to look at what's at stake in your custody case. 

  • What are all the things that are in dispute in your custody case? 
  • Are we talking about decision making or legal custody?
  • Are we talking about parenting time?
  • Are we arguing over holidays?
  • Are we arguing over vacation?
  • Are we arguing over transportation?
  • Are we arguing over child support?
  • Are we arguing over whether a third party can watch the kids if the parent who the kids are supposed to be in the care of is not available?

What are the things that are an issue?  Once you have that list then you have to decide what are the things that are most important to me because they're going to make a difference in the life of my kids.   Then I would say the top 3 to 5 things are the things that you have to focus all of your energy on.

You have to be willing to compromise on some of the not so huge things.   

You Need to Be Convincing and Back it Up with Evidence

If you're going to advocate and negotiate that you should get equal parenting time arrangement or shared custody or the other parents should not get any parenting time or supervised parenting time,  you have to be not only convinced in your heart of hearts but you have to be able to articulate it to the judge.  It's more than just appealing to the judge's emotion.  You have to back it up with real evidence.  You have to back up what you're saying with real hard evidence and with the facts. 

You should get used to looking at yourself in the mirror and saying this is what I want and why.  When you get to the place where you have to advocate for yourself whether that's in mediation or trial or temporary orders hearing you are convinced and you are convincing.

The more you talk about your case with other people who are interested and who are supporting you and the more you talk about it in the mirror and the more you write about it and journal and build your case.  If you do the things that I show you how to do in the 21-day Custody Challenge the more convincing you're going to become to the court. 

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