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Can You "Coach" a Child for a Child Custody Evaluation?

Interviewing children by a mental health professional in a child custody case can be ordered by the judge to determine custody, decision making or parenting time.

If children are of sufficient maturity judges can consider whatever the child wants in making a decision about what is in the child’s best interest.

The judge will often order an evaluation of the child via an interview by a mental health professional. In many of these cases both myself and my client are shocked when the interview comes back and the child has said something different than what the child has actually relayed to the parent whose asking for the change.

But when I sit down and think about it I’m not so shocked because of children and how eager to please their parents they are. How they love their parents and don’t want to hurt either parent’s feelings or have the parent be angry with them. So this can be what is behind when a child tells one parent that they want to come live with...

Failing to Appear in Court in a Custody or Divorce Case


In this weeks video I want to talk some possible consequences if one fails to appear on a family law court date.  

It's never a good idea to not show up for your court hearing in your divorce or custody case. Especially if you have an interest in what the outcome might be. Now if you don't have an interest in what the outcome might be meaning you don't care one way or the other it's still not necessarily a good idea not to show up.

A lot is going to depend on what type of hearing that you are not showing up for. In some cases if you don't show up for your family law hearing what the court could do is enter what is called a default judgement against you. What that means is that the court could give the other party all the relief that they are asking for.

If the other side is asking for sole custody or sole decision making and their asking to have the majority of the parenting time or they are asking for some outrageous of child support, it is possible that that person...

Gathering Evidence When Representing Yourself in Divorce


Some choose to go through a family court case without an attorney and the reason is because they cannot afford one.  I know that's the case with many of the people who watch Command the Courtroom weekly videos. They are on their own they're trying to figure it out and make the best case possible for themselves.

This particular viewer asked me if he's representing himself in his divorce case yet he does still have a little bit of money to spend is there some way that he could spend his resources to help him in his case?

I will start out by saying it this is not a one-size-fits-all answer. The answer could depend on the case and the facts and the person and the people involved but if it were me going through a case and I didn't have the resources to hire an attorney but I had a few hundred dollars to spend on something, what i would do is use that money towards gathering evidence that I intend to present during the divorce or custody hearing in the event that the case goes to...

Do You Direct Examine YOURSELF when Representing Yourself in Family Court?


When you are representing yourself in family court & presenting evidence, do you get on the stand & ask & answer questions to yourself?

A lot of people representing themselves have this question. They wonder, since they are representing themselves in their own family law case, how it is that they conduct a direct examination of themselves when presenting their case. In other words do does she have to ask yourself a question and then answer it? Or is there some way that you can present the evidence to the judge to get your points across.

The answer is that you don't necessarily have to sit there and ask yourself a question and then answer. What I have always seen is people getting on the stand and testifying in a narrative format about whatever it is that they want the judge to hear.

Now this sounds like it would be easy right? Well it is, IF you are organized. Getting organized means preparing the areas that you want to address with the court in advance of your family...

How Domestic Violence in a DIFFERENT Relationship Affects Child Custody

In this week's video, I answer a question from a viewer about domestic violence that is committed in a DIFFERENT relationship than the one where child custody is being litigated.

One of my viewers is going through a divorce and her soon to be ex-husband has a 15-year old child from a different relationship. And then she and her soon to be ex-husband have a younger child together.

The soon to be ex-husband got into an altercation with his 15-year old daughter from the other relationship which resulted in some marks on her. What happened then was child protective services from her state got involved and stated that there may be evidence of child abuse taking place between the husband and his 15-year old daughter.

So my viewer wants to know is can she use that information as evidence in her own divorce and custody case regarding the younger child that she and her husband share.

The answer is yes it can and it goes back to the Best Interest of the Child Factors that I talk about in so...

Can a Judge Modify a Child Custody Order in the Future?


This week’s video answers the question if it’s possible for a judge to modify the initial finding of a child custody order.

This was a question that I got from one of my viewers and in her question to me she was wondering whether it's possible once the judge has made a final order about custody that at some point in the future that judge or another judge can go in and modify the initial finding for custody?

Let me explain that a little more specifically. Say you were in court a couple of years ago and the judge awarded either you or the other party sole decision making over your children. It is possible that years down the road one parent or the other can go back to court asking the court to modify that decision.

It could involve modifying the arrangement to joint decision-making and the same applies to parenting time schedules. In a case a judge may make a parenting time schedule where one parent is getting every other weekend for example years down the road it is...

Anatomy of a Family Law Case From Start to Finish (Legal Terms & Definitions)

In this video I am going to show you what family law cases are going to look like from start to finish including important legal terms you need to know.

These are some of the important Legal Terms I am going to go over along with their definitions: petition, file a petition, motion, complaint, petitioner, plaintiff, respondent, defendant, being served, discovery phase, consent decree of dissolution , consent judgment, mediation

To get a family law case started somebody has to file a petition in court and a petition might also be known as a motion or a complaint. Regardless of what is called in your jurisdiction whoever filed the petition is often called the petitioner. That is the person petitioning the court and there are some jurisdictions where the petitioner might be called the plaintiff.

The person who has not petitioned the court is called the respondent or the defendant. That person is the one who is receiving the petitioners ie being served with the petition. If you are the...

How NOT to Make the Judge Angry in Your Family Law Case

In todays video I’m going to talk about how to prevent the judge in your custody or family law case from getting really angry at you. Or if the judge is on your side, how to make sure you keep him or her on your side.

The main thing you can do this is to be reasonable in what you are asking for. Deciding what is reasonable is, I know, sometimes hard to gauge because this is your life, this is your children, etc.

When you're really biased it's hard to see the other side it's hard to see the other side as being reasonable but to the best of your ability when you're going through a case when it comes to whatever request that you're making or whatever position you're taking
I think that you should always put your self in the position of the judge. The judge is ultimately is the most important person in your case.

I recently had a couple of different cases where a judge thought that my clients positions are unreasonable and in one case my client didn't see where his position was...

Parent Wants to Move Out of State in Child Custody

If you want to relocate with your child or you are fighting your spouse relocating this is what you need to have ready for the judge.

I've been getting a lot of questions from people who have the issue of relocation in their child custody case. Either they want to move out of state, city, town, country with their child or they are the parent who do not want their child to move out of state, city, etc.

So what do you need to show the judge if you are the parent who wants to be able to relocate the child or if you are the parent who is fighting against the other parent relocating the child.

Step 1: You always start with the best interest factors. So wherever you are located go to your States statutes and the child custody factors also known as the best interest factors for your state. I talk about the best interest factors in a lot of my videos.

If you want to download a free list of the child best interest factors go to my website and you can get a...

Proving a Parent is Unfit in a Child Custody Case


Proving a parent is unfit in a child custody case is not easy. Here are a few examples of how to gather evidence when dealing with substance abuse, child abuse or neglect. I've also included a real case where I represented a father with 2 children where the mother was addicted to methamphetamenes.

If you are seeking sole custody of your child one way to do this is to prove that the other parent is unfit. Proving unfitness of a parent is not always easy to do. In my practice I have been able to prove unfitness of a parent by proving evidence of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, alcoholism, etc.

This includes both illegal drugs and prescription drugs. If the other parent has a history of drug abuse for a significant number of years this should be brought before the court. Also important is whether or not they are currently in a drug or alcohol treatment program. Have they been through treatment or rehab but continue to relapse?

However they don’t have to have a drug or alcohol problem...