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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


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...

Child Custody Orders Are Never Really Permanent Orders

Over the past couple of months I’ve had some clients that have been handed some really tough custody/decision making and parenting time results after trial. Unfortunately for these clients the kids are pretty young and they feel hopeless like they are never going to get to the point where they want to be with their children.

One thing I want to talk to you about is the fact that custody orders are never really permanent orders. Again, if and when there is a change in circumstances in you or your child's lives, either party can ask the judge to modify that custody and or parenting time order that is in effect.

I’ve talked about the different kinds of things that can constitute a change in circumstances in some of my other videos but I’ll mention them again here. If many years pass and say your child was one year old at the time the original custody order was entered and now your child is 4, 5 or 6, age may be one of the factors that a judge looks at. It’s...

Bring ALL of Your Child Custody Trial Evidence & Witnesses to Court!

Have you ever heard the term “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight”? This is especially true when you are in the courtroom. When you go to trial on your child custody case, your support case or your divorce case, that is the time to pull out all of the stops. That means bringing all of your evidence in support of your case to the courtroom and bringing as many witnesses as you can that are going to be helpful and not cumulative to the presentation of evidence.

It’s not good if you go to court and are trying to prove a point to the judge “I have that evidence but it’s at home in my filing cabinet or such and such witness couldn’t come to testify”. It doesn’t work. If you have evidence or witnesses and they are not there at the time of the trial the judge is not going to consider that information.

This is something that I share in one of my courses, but I’m bringing this up now because I’ve had a bunch of trials the...

Taking Baby Steps When You Are a Father Trying to Get Equal Parenting Time


In this week’s video I want to talk to you about taking baby steps as you proceed through your child custody case.  Often times, and it is usually fathers, tell me that they are not getting enough time with their children.  They want equal time with their children and to have as much time with their children as the mother has. In many cases the father may not be getting any time at all or sometimes just minimal time. 

It’s almost always my philosophy to try to work things out outside the court. In cases where the other party is adamant that they will not agree to equal parenting time, I often talk to my client, usually the father usually about considering taking less time as the case is proceeding to get to where he wants to be eventually. Because in my mind some time is better than no time

I've been in the position where I get to trial and both parties have dug their heels in and for example my client the father has not wanted to accept any time. He just...

Can You Undo a Custody Order Issued Against You That You Had No Knowledge Of?

I want to talk to you about undoing a child custody order that you had no knowledge about. In past videos I’ve talked about the importance of giving a party notice when you are filing an action in court or when you are asking the court to do something. You can give a party notice by serving them with the paperwork and depending on where you live, there are different ways that you can serve a party.

You can serve them by way of process server, you can have them accept service, or in many cases you can serve them with certified mail return receipt requested. But there are going to be cases where service or notice slips through the cracks.

There is actually someone really close to me in my life that had a case where his children’s names were changed while he was living in another country. He never received notice that this action was pending.

What should you do if this happens to you?

The first thing you should do is go to the Rules of Procedure wherever you live. If you...