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Collaborative Divorce | Alternatives for Settling a Divorce Outside the Courtroom - Part 3

This is video 3 in my series on how to settle your family court case outside the courtroom.  In video one we talked about sending letters or emails to try to settle. In video 2 I talked about having an informal settlement conference with your ex or soon to be ex and in this video I'm going to talk with you about alternative dispute resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution is an alternative way to resolve your dispute.  Makes sense right? There are lots of different types of alternative dispute resolution and I'm going to cover a few of them in subsequent videos but I just want to highlight what those are for you before I delve into the first one.

One method of alternative dispute resolution is called mediation and that's when you and the other parties sit with the neutral who tries to help you work out the details of your case. Another method of alternative dispute resolution is arbitration where you and the other party mutually select an arbitrator and oftentimes it's...

Informal Settlement Conference | Alternatives for Settling a Divorce Outside the Courtroom - Part 2

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This is the second video in a series of videos on how to settle your divorce or custody case outside of the courtroom.  In the first video I talked about trying to get a settlement the good old fashioned way, by writing letters or exchanging emails back and forth with the other party to see if you can reach some sort of agreement on the contested issues.  In this video I want to talk to you about what’s called an informal settlement conference.

A settlement conference is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a conference where you sit down the other party and you try and settle things. As a divorce attorney I do a lot of these informal settlement conferences.  Sometimes when people are represented by an attorney, the other party will just head over to my office and we sit down and try to hammer things out informally.

There is no court reporter, judge or mediator present. It is just the 4 of us trying to talk through the issues in their divorce or child...

Sending Letters & Emails | Alternatives for Settling a Divorce Outside the Courtroom - Part 1

In the next five videos I am going to give you some information on alternatives for settling your case outside of the courtroom.

Without a doubt it's better for you to take your own life into your own hands and resolve the case if possible with your ex-partner outside the courtroom.   If you don't settle your case then what's going to happen is you're going to end up in front of a stranger a judge who's going to make decisions about your life and maybe the life of your children, your future financial life after having heard about the history of your case over just a few hours.

In extreme cases maybe you'll get a day or two or maybe three but that's still not a lot of time. The judge is still a stranger and it's still scary in my mind to have a stranger making those decisions.   I want to help empower you to take your life into your own hands and look at these strategies.   So the first strategy I want to talk to you about is just writing letters....

Taking Personality Responsibility in Your Child Custody Case

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As I said in my previous video in 2019 I'm going to be sprinkling some videos in my regular lineup that are designed to be more motivational and inspirational. I know how difficult it is as you are going through a custody case and it's really easy to get pulled down by the heaviness and emotions of it.

Going through a custody case takes it's toll on you emotionally, physically and on your pocketbook. If I'm having a bad day and someone gives me a compliment or says something nice to me and it brings me up, I want to do the same for you.

Let's talk about personal responsibility. As an attorney who has been practicing law for over 20 years and family law for exactly 20 years, it's frustrating to see people come into my office and blame everyone around them for the circumstance they find themselves in.

As you go through your custody case I think it's really important for you to take a look at yourself and maybe see where you've gone wrong in the past to create the situation that...

Stop Thinking "It's My Way or the Highway" in Your Custody Case

I want to challenge you to begin to think in a different way.   A lot of people including myself tend to think in terms of either/or.   Meaning if you have one thing you can't have the other thing.   I want to challenge you to start thinking about is there a way that I can maybe have two things at once and try to reconcile those things?

Oftentimes when parties don't agree they think it's either my way or the highway and that there's no room for both parties’ opinions.   In a recent case I learned that actually maybe there is room for both.   I learned that parties that really work to problem-solve and do it together that maybe both of their core desires can be met and maybe their goals can be accomplished by being open to both points of view.   Let me explain a little more.   In this particular case I was representing the father of a child and the child had some special needs.  He had ADHD and some...

Laying Foundation When Writing Motions for a Judge in Your Custody Case

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Today I want to talk with you about laying foundation when you are writing motions to a judge.   Recently one of my clients wanted me to file a motion and ask for the judge to enter some temporary orders in his case. In this case my client had a ton of text and email evidence that he wanted to attach to the motion for temporary orders. Some of the emails were long chains of emails between the parties and some of the text messages went on and on and on. Potentially this information is information that really could have been confusing and overwhelming to the judge.

One thing that you have to do when you are writing motions to the judge or when you are presenting your case in court is lay foundation. Not all but part of laying foundation is giving the judge a framework so the judge knows when something happened and the circumstances under which it happened.

So when my client gave me all of these text messages and emails not all of them had dates attached or the dates were...

Maintaining Professionalism is KEY When Representing Yourself in a Custody Case

Professionalism means treating the other party with courtesy and respect. I understand that you may not consider yourself a professional if you didn’t go to law school and you’re not a lawyer and you’re representing yourself. But in these cases you can still act with professionalism even if you don’t consider yourself a professional.  

It’s really important because as you proceed through your custody case and as you gear up to go to trial, chances are the emails and text messages that you have exchanged with the other party are going to end up as exhibits. So if you are discourteous and rude and disrespectful, then the judge is going to see that and those are going to be strikes against you.

Always maintain an air of professionalism. I was surprised in one of my recent cases where I had sent a letter to another attorney asking her to take action on some things her client was doing that were in violation of a preliminary injunction. I gave the...

An Example of an "Abuse of Process" in a Recent Custody Case

I want to talk with you about abuse of process and give you an example of what an abuse of process is so you don’t do it in your custody case. I represent a father and he and mother share 3 children in common. Several months ago mother got an order of protection also known as a restraining order on father. Although the judge did grant the mother the order of protection restraining father from having contact with her, the judge declined to put the 3 children on the order of protection. My client claimed the allegations were not valid allegations and so we ordered a hearing to contest it.

My client, the father, said that the allegations were not valid allegations and he wanted to contest the order of protection.   He and I ordered a hearing on that order of protection and we actually prevailed so the order of protection was dismissed. It then came as a shock to me and my client when he was served, very shortly thereafter, with another order of protection.

The second...

Protecting Rights of Grandparents & Third Parties Who Have Custody of a Child

In today’s video I want to talk to those grandparents, parents and third parties who have custody of a child. So in the case of grandparents and third parties, the child is not going to be their own child but rather a grandchild or maybe a stepson or stepdaughter and they’ve been awarded custody by the court.

I want to talk to these people about their situation especially if the other parent has been absent from that child’s life for a long period of time.   I’ve had a few of these cases surprisingly in the last year come up where either a grandparent, parent or third party has custody and the other parent hasn’t been around. Then suddenly the other parent appears out of nowhere after many years demanding either custody or parenting time rights.

What has happened in these cases is that it has caused complete upheaval in the lives of these children. They haven’t known the parent or haven’t had exposure or parenting time with the...

Can a Temporary Custody Order Turn Into a Permanent Custody Order?

One of the questions I get asked quite a bit from my clients and my potential clients is whether or not a temporary custody order can turn into a permanent custody order.   The short answer is yes it can.

A lot of times if you are involved in a case and you want the court to enter orders while the case is proceeding but before there is a final decision made, what you have to do is ask the court to enter temporary orders.   If you and the other party can’t agree on what those temporary orders are going to be about…custody/decision making and parenting time with the kids, then the judge will make the decision for you.

At least where I practice temporary orders hearings are very abbreviated and often times they are an hour or less.   You have a very limited time to conduct discovery before these temporary orders hearings and a limited time to actually present evidence. So, the result of a temporary orders hearing may not be the best result...