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Does a Judge Conduct Child Interviews in Custody Cases?

It is somewhat unusual for a judge to conduct the child interview instead of a mental health professional in custody cases.

I'm going to talk about a question that I got from one of viewers on child interviews in child custody. In this particular case my viewers judge is about ready to interview the children. This case is unusual because it's actually the judge who's going to be interviewing the children as opposed to a mental health professional which is what often happens in Arizona. So before I dive into the answer I want to remind you about why judges might order children to be interviewed in the first place.

As you might think back to the best interest factors i talk about in so many of these videos one of the factors that the judge looks at is what are the children's wishes. When the children are old enough for a sufficient maturity to express themselves then a judge will have them interviewed & there's a couple ways that judges can do this.

The most common way that I see...

How Will My' Not So Perfect Past' Affect My Child Custody Case?


At some point in your past you've done something wrong. That’s just a part of being human but when it comes to a custody case if it's a really hotly contested case you can bet the other side is going to try to bring up whatever the mistakes you've made in the past to the judge.

The point I want to make is that whatever it is that you've done in your past you really have to own up to it if it does come up during your case. Don't lie to the judge. Some people are going to have made worse mistakes than others like lying to the other party about something. On the other hand maybe the party committed an act of domestic violence against the other party or convicted of a DUI or has a past drug use or has a drug offense, criminal record, convicted felon

If that's happened in your case then you really have to come clean and you have to tell the judge what happened, explain where your head was when that happened. But really you want to pivot and talk to the judge more about where you...

Can a Parenting Plan be Modified if I Think My Ex-Spouse Has Mental Health Issues


There may be times when circumstances change in custody cases. In this instance the father believes the mother has mental health issues. 

There’s nothing wrong with having mental health issues but if you are in a custody case it’s important that you are getting treatment that you need & follow those treatment plans. In this case my client believes the mother has had these mental health issues & because she had not been treating them, she was placing the children in dangerous situations, negligent & in some cases reckless in her conduct. My client believed that when the children were in her care they were in danger of serious harm or injury. So he wanted to limit her parenting time.

One of the first things the court ordered was for both parties to meet with what is called a court appointed advisor. This advisor is like an investigator or a researcher & they look into allegations. & was looking for was information for the allegations that my...

Not Happy With Your Family Law Attorney? Here's What You Can Do.


In a lot of the questions & comments that I get, a lot of my viewers are being represented by a family law attorney. They are looking at my videos just to supplement what they are doing with an attorney.

But what I am also hearing is that people are either dissatisfied with the communication with their attorney or they are not happy with the work the attorney is doing. The point I want to get a across to you today is you have to communicate with your attorney. You have to tell your attorney what it is you expect & what it is you want. Furthermore, you must be open-minded where your attorney is concerned.

Remember you hired your attorney for a reason and the attorney is the expert & presumably knows how to manage & handle a divorce or custody case. So to a certain extent you have to let the attorney to his or her job but you need to talk about it. If you have a problem with your attorney, communicate with him or her. Let them know how you are feeling and how you...

Obtaining Your Spouse's Medical Records in a Family Law Case

If a case concerns custody or parenting time of the children one of the things the court is going to want to know about is the physical, mental and emotional well being of all involved parties. So if there is a physical, mental or emotional issue with a parent that will affect the children or will affect having the children in their care, by all means that person’s medical history is relevant and very possibly admissible at trial so that is something you are going to want to investigate.

There are a few ways to get medical records from the other party. One way is to ask the other party to provide the records to you. That is something I do a lot in my own cases, but there are times when I am concerned that the other party is not going to provide the full medical record. They may be hiding something or not disclosing something. So in those cases I opt to get the medical records myself. How I do that is I get ‘releases’ from the other side.

My strategy is to get the...

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...