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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...

Equal Parenting Rights When Other Parent Has Been the Primary Caretaker of the Child

Today I want to talk with you about an argument that comes up a lot in child custody cases especially when parties have been living together and sharing child custody for a significant period of time.

What I often hear is that one parent or the other was the primary caretaker of the kids and that the other parent really wasn't all that involved in their school, or extracurricular activities or maybe taking them to the doctor. So the argument that the parent who says they were the primary caretaker is that they should continue to be the primary caretaker because the children are used to them being around all the time.

The person who was not involved as much in the children's day to day life is now saying, that that is not really fair because circumstances have changed. I'm not in a position where I'm going to come home every night to see the kids even though I'm not the one giving them the nightly baths or doing the nightly homework.

So, I do want equal parenting time and more time...

Tip About Reading The Minutes From Your Child Custody Court Hearing Carefully

I want to give you a tip about reading your minutes from your child custody court hearing very carefully. The minutes from court are like minutes from a meeting. If you were ever in student council as a kid there's a secretary who would take minutes.

In the courtroom there is usually some sort of assistant who takes down the minutes. In Arizona that person is called a judicial assistant and he or she takes minutes of everything that is happening in the courtroom. Then after a court hearing, usually within a few days we will get those minutes from the court.

These minutes in my jurisdiction are called minute entries, although in some jurisdictions they may just call them minutes. Your minute entries are going to contain information that is very important to your case. They will contain deadlines that you are going to have to meet, future court dates, requirements for getting your case ready for court and other miscellaneous requirements. I bring this up because in a recent case...